Make Way for Royalty

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), March 26, 2004 | Go to article overview

Make Way for Royalty


A goddess of the underworld is paying a visit to the North East on her nationwide tour from the British Museum.

The spectacular 4,000-year-old terracotta relief of a Babylonian goddess will arrive at Sunderland's Museum and Winter Gardens for one weekend only.

Made of baked clay, The Queen of the Night is a masterpiece of ancient Iraqi art which has recently been acquired by the British Museum.

The sculpture arrives in the region on Saturday as part of the national roadshow which will see the object travel to Glasgow, Leicester and London.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, explains: "The Queen of the Night is a timely reminder that what is now Iraq was once the cradle of civilisation.

"Writing was invented here and Mesopotamia, the land between the River Tigris and Euphrates, was home to Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians.

"The astonishing remains of these ancient peoples are an important part of the world's cultural heritage and, through this roadshow and future activity, the British Museum hopes that people around the country will have a chance to discover more about the past of a country so much in the present news."

The Queen of the Night first came to England in the 1920s but has remained in private hands until her purchase by the British Museum in 2003 with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund and the British Museum Friends among others at a cost of pounds 1.5m.

The large piece (49.5cm by 37cm) is probably a shrine from Babylonia (central Iraq) modelled in high relief and dates to 1800-1750BC.

It shows a curvaceous winged naked lady, standing on lions and flanked by two owls. …

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