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The Question of Identity: Ethnicity, Language, Religion, and Gender

Before Islam:  Overview

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Mesopotamian Fertility Figurine

Mesopotamian Fertility Figurine

This clay figurine of a nude female figure is part of a tradition that stretches across thousands of years and across many different cultures of the ancient Middle East, from the Neolithic period into the Iron Age. These figures are probably related to a fertility cult that operated at the household level and provide a striking contrast with the more formal representations of human form made for institutional ritual.

This figurine is a reminder that not all representations of people—even relatively stylized and abstract figures—represent ethnic differences. Although there is some attention to the hairstyle of this figure, it is not recognizable to archaeologists as distinctive of a particular group.

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