Portrait of a Ruler: The Portrayal of Ur-Ningirsu in Statuary and Inscriptions

Renate Marian van Dijk-Coombes


The most famous ruler of the Second Dynasty of Lagash during the twenty-second century B.C.E. is Gudea, who is immortalised in approximately twenty surviving statues. By contrast, only four known statues of Gudea’s son and heir, Ur-Ningirsu, have survived to the present day, although this is still an impressive amount of sculpture in the round for any Mesopotamian ruler. One of these statues survives only as a fragment of a shoulder. Each of the other three statues has some unusual or unique iconographic feature when compared to contemporary royal sculpture in the round. This paper will examine the relevance of these features and what messages they convey about Ur-Ningirsu. Ur-Ningirsu’s royal inscriptions will also be analysed to reveal what these texts communicate. The messages conveyed in the two types of media – artistic and textual – can then be compared to see if they form one uniform statement.


Ur-Ningirsu; ancient statuary; ancient inscriptions; bull iconography;

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/1013-8471/3122


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