Ancient Riddles to Test Our Wits: The Purse from Assyria

© 2017 B. L. Freeborn

The object that appears to be a purse found in the art of the Olmecs of Mesoamerica and in ancient Assyria in the Middle East was discussed previously in posts on the Odd Little Purse and Its Meaning.

Assyrian Purse

A stone carved weight from Assyria located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

Now, one has been found! In the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Assyrian Collection there is an intricately carved stone purse about a foot in width. It is decorated with the tree of life motif that is so prevalent in art from the period.

The museum description reads that it was probably used as a weight or counter balance for a scale. Indeed, in the photo one can see that the upper left side of the handle seems worn from use as if it had been hung on a hook repeatedly. Next to this stone purse was another of similar design but smaller with a broken handle.

Assyrian Purse in relief

Assyrian Relief with Winged Genius, Walters Art Museum, Wikimedia

This independent confirmation by the museum that it was a weight reinforces ideas presented in other posts. Because of its central position in these beautiful works of art, such as the Assyrian Relief shown here, it must be intrinsic to the story they relate.

Could they actually be depicting a comet coming to the center of the ‘weight of the world’, or the then massive northern ice sheets, where the ‘tree of life’, now known as the magnetic north pole, emanates?

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