A decorated Tridacna shell was discovered in a Neo-Assyrian period dwelling in Ashur. These edible molluscs come either from the Red Sea or the Persian-Arabian Gulf. The shell’s decoration with delicate incised drawings shows it to be of Phoenician origin. There is no way of knowing whether it found its way to Ashur as a luxury gift or in the luggage of some foreign woman who resided there. The narrative power and beauty of the depiction are impressive. At the shell’s hinge a female head has been carved in three dimensions, her flowing hair blending in with the two-dimensional image of a fourwinged genius seen from the back.


  • Title: Engraved Tridacna shell
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 8th / 7th century BCE
  • Location: Assur (Qal´at Sergat), Iraq
  • Physical Dimensions: h25.2 x d16.3 cm
  • Type: Shell
  • Medium: Shell, engraved
  • Inv. no.: VA 5526
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-815718
  • External link: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Olaf M.Teßmer || Text © Prestel Verlag / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Beate Salje
  • Collection: Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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