Gudea, King of Lagash by Unknown Artist

This imposing bust is of Gudea, ruler of Lagash, a city in ancient Sumer and a site of spectacular archaeological importance.


Mottled green dolorite
Height: 73.6 cm
Art Fund grant:
£5,300 ( Total: £7,500)
Acquired in:
Mme Luiz de Sousa Barbosa

A pious man, Gudea commissioned numerous statues of himself standing or seated in prayer. During a period of political unrest, Girsu, the religious center of Lagash was ravaged and statues were decapitated. Thus, all of the Gudea figures found during the excavations between 1877 and 1933, were discovered without heads. This statue was discovered as a torso and finished with a head which does not match the surface of the break, but is still believed to be the original. Traces of gold on the fingernails indicate they were originally gold-plated.


Found at Lagash circa 1924.

Venue details

British Museum Great Russell Street, LONDON London WC1B 3DG 020 7323 8181

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