Ancient Riddles to Test Our Wits: The Purse from Assyria

© 2017 B. L. Freeborn, updated Sept. 2022

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?

This iconography also appears at Gobekli Tepe. (Image from Wikipedia.) On pillar 43 three purses appear in a row with vultures below them. One appears to be tossing a ball. ?!?


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The Meaning of the Purse in Assyrian and Olmec Art

Copyright © 2014 by B.L. Freeborn

From time to time in the feedback section I receive on this blog it is evident that someone is searching for the answer to a particular question. A post I have written may come close to answering it and so they are referred here.

Assyrian Relief with Winged Genius, Walters Art Museum, Wikimedia

Assyrian Relief with Winged Genius, Walters Art Museum, Wikimedia

Last week someone was looking for the meaning of the purse in Assyrian art and so ended up at my post on the “Little Purse” which reveals an obvious link between the Assyrian and Olmec cultures. This is otherwise known as diffusionism.

So to answer the question directly, the purse indicates measurement in all forms. It is a square just as we see when we measure the globe in longitude and latitude. Each grid forms a square. We are further enlightened by the star on the wrist of the giant man. The pole star is central to measurement of the heavens. It is the point around which the heavens appear to turn which is emphasized in the Olmec version by the accented roundness of the man’s body.

It further indicates the measurement of weight. It hangs just as weights on a balance scale still do today.

Both men have one arm up and bent, and one arm down as we saw in the art of Ugarit and the statue related to Baal.

La Venta, Mexico, Olmec Monument 19, Photo by Audrey and George Delange, Wikimedia

La Venta, Mexico, Olmec Monument 19, Photo by Audrey and George Delange, Wikimedia

The giant holds a “pine cone” or the eye of a comet. This appears in the Olmec version as the ball with tail on the man’s shoulders behind his head. His body with the accented roundness of his shoulders and his clothes depict the round Earth complete with lines of latitude formed by the lines of his clothes. Indeed, the idea of a comet is again portrayed by this same round man within the serpent. He becomes the eye of a comet and the serpent is the coma.

The chest area forms a v which indicates a crater, or a broken Earth. This is doubly depicted. The curved headgear forms a crater as well. The crater was depicted in the Assyrian art as a cup held upon the hand of another giant. Both stories are depicting the details of a comet impact at the north pole, the place from which all  measurement is determined.

The arm bands of the Giant are broken indicating broken lines of latitude. His clothes depict longitude and latitude in the fringe that fans out or hangs straight. The double comet idea is further betrayed in this image by the two sword handles at his midriff.

This would be the story of Baal as we saw in the story of Newark Earthworks in Ohio. So we have a South American, North American and Middle East Version of the tale!

An actual ancient purse has been found! See it here.

The links will take the reader back to the pertinent posts.

Next up are new pictures of the Mystery Stone of New Hampshire This stone relates the Deluge Story which resulted from a double comet impact.

If you have a question not directly answered, post a comment.

Back to previous post – A Visual Tour of the Serpent Mound

Back to post – A Visual Tour of the Newark Earthworks

Ahead to more about the New Hampshire Mystery Stone