American University of Beirut

The "Eye Idol" at the AUB Museum

​​​​​An alabaster “Eye Idol" (Inv.# 93.5), on display at the AUB Archaeological Museum, dates back to the 3rd millennium B.C.

Thousands of theses figurines, were found in the “Eye Temple Complex" of Tell Brak, a site situated within the Khabur Basin in North-Eastern Syria; the Temple gained its name from these unique artefacts found in large numbers. Most human representations were carved out of black and white alabaster, and consisted of thin conical bodies surmounted by a pair of emphasized eyes.

There were many varieties of idols, including figures with one pair of eyes, two pairs of eyes, and some with engravings of smaller idols on the front of the body which were possibly family representations. Community members belonging to a higher hierarchy were probably represented by figurines wearing crowns.

The unique “eye idol" (Inv.# 93.5) at the AUB Museum has a conical body, surmounted by a pair of open loops featuring the eyes, and two protuberances at the base for the feet.

Several interpretations are related to these idols such as offerings or votive gifts, cultic symbols, amulets connected with the evil eye belief or linked to a deity worshipped at Tell Brak.

Stay tuned for more artifacts from the AUB Museum.​

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