About Sumerian Dedication Foundation Cones

8611ae4Temple dedication foundation cones were placed in the temple walls of ancient Sumer (modern-day Iraq) for decoration. They record information about the ruler of that day and information about the god the temple was dedicated to. The exposed disk shaped ends of these cones were usually dipped in bright colours and set in mosaic patterns.

metmuseumconemosaicUsed by Sumerians and other Mesopotamian cultures beginning in the third millennium BC, they are also referred to as dedication or foundation nails, cones, or pegs, they invariably were cone-shaped nails made of clay, inscribed with cuneiform, baked, and stuck into the mud-brick walls to serve as evidence that the temple or building was the divine property of the god to whom it was dedicated.

imagesAdditionally, mixed inscribed and un-inscribed clay cones painted in different colors were used by the Sumerians to create decorative mosaic patterns on walls and pillars of buildings, which also offered some protection against weathering.

UrukStoneConeTempleExamples of these foundation cones on Artemission, which the ruler dedicates the building of a temple to the hero Ningirsu in honor of the primeval god Enlil, the temple was adorned with an image of Anzu, the brilliant lion headed eagle demon.


The ten line text reads:

For Ningirsu, mighty warrior of Enli, Gudea, governor of Lagash, produced everything needed and built and restored Eninnu, Ningirsu’s shining Indugu-bird‘.


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