The Mask of Warka at the Iraq Museum


Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin
published on 21 March 2019

This is the first almost complete and life-size depiction of the human face in history, with respect to its anatomical details. It is made of marble and is about 20 cm tall. The eyes may have been inlaid with shells and lapis lazuli. The head might have been part of a large cult statue or it was attached to a wall. It may represent the Sumerian goddess Inanna (Akkadian Ishtar). It was excavated by a German archaeological team in 1939 CE, in a temple dedicated to Inanna at the Sumerian city of Uruk (modern-day Warka), southern Iraq, and has been in the Iraq Museum since then. Shortly before the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 CE, the mask of Warka was removed from its display case and was stored in Room 104 of the Museum for safekeeping. Somewhere between April 10 to 12, 2003 CE, it was looted from the Museum after the fall of Saddam's regime. In September 2003 CE, a tip from an informant to the US Military police was received, which said that it was in a farm north of Baghdad. A raid was conducted by the US army and found the Mask of Warka after digging 15 cm in the dirt. It is now on display in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, Sumerian Gallery. It dates back to Jemdet Nasr period, 3000-2900 BCE.

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About the Author

Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin
Associate Professor of Neurology and lover of the Cradle of Civilization, Mesopotamia. I'm very interested in Mesopotamian history and always try to take photos of archaeological sites and artifacts in museums, both in Iraq and around the world.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Amin, O. S. M. (2019, March 21). The Mask of Warka at the Iraq Museum. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Amin, Osama Shukir Muhammed. "The Mask of Warka at the Iraq Museum." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified March 21, 2019.

MLA Style

Amin, Osama Shukir Muhammed. "The Mask of Warka at the Iraq Museum." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 21 Mar 2019. Web. 08 Dec 2022.