Naomi Miller Publishes Article on New Interpretation of the so-called "Ram Caught in a Thicket" Statuettes from the Death Pit at Ur, Iraq

By Hannah McDonald
08/25/2020

Naomi Miller recently published an article on a new interpretation of the so-called "Ram Caught in a Thicket" statuettes from the Death Pit at Ur, Iraq.

The statuettes commonly referred to as "Ram Caught in a Thicket" (2500 BCE) may well be associated with what is known from later texts (2nd millennium BCE) as the determining-of-the-fates ritual that occurred at sunrise. Symbolic elements (tree, rosette, leaf, possible mountain) and motif (quadruped in a tree) occur in other media (glyptic, musical instruments), and their meaning informs the unique combination of elements found in these two statuettes. It is proposed that the statuettes are offering stands. The composition as a whole represents a sacred landscape rather than a charming genre scene. Therefore, it is likely that the statuettes were meant for the daily ritual of the determining of the fates, which would push the later attestations of that ritual back to the mid-third millennium BCE.

The article can be found here: “A Sacred Landscape of Sumer: Statuettes from Ur Depicting a Goat on a Tree,” by Naomi F. Miller, Philip Jones, Richard L. Zettler, and Holly Pittman (Journal of Near Eastern Religions 20 (2020) 27–47)