The Famous Burney Relief: Who Was the Mysterious Mesopotamian Goddess?

May 5, 2019 - General
The Burney Relief

The Burney Relief (known also as the Queen of the Night) is a terracotta plaque from ancient Mesopotamia. The relief is dominated by a nude female figure with wings and talons. She is usually identified as a goddess, though experts disagree with each other as to which deity she is supposed to be representing. Apart from the female figure, two pairs of animals are also featured on the plaque. The Burney Relief is today displayed in the British Museum in London.

Origins of the Burney Relief

The Burney Relief is named after Sydney Burney, a British art and antiquities dealer. The artifact was brought to London by a Syrian / Lebanese dealer around the 1930s, though its exact provenance is unknown.

In 1935, the object was offered to the British Museum for £350 ($390) by Selim Homsy & Co. acting on behalf of Abdul Jabar of Basra. The museum, however, declined the offer. In the following year, an article about the plaque was published in the Illustrated London News, which brought the Burney Relief to public attention.

Source: origins

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