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Stele of Vultures

Partially reconstructed from several fragments found in the remains of the Sumerian city of Girsu, this stele of vultures is the oldest known historiographic document. A long inscription in the Sumerian language recounts the recurring conflict between the neighboring city-states of Lagash and Umma and then the victory of Eannatum, king of Lagash. His triumph is illustrated with a wealth of detail by the remarkable bas-relief decor that covers both sides.

The narrative of the military campaign against Umma is dramatically illustrated by figurative representations, carved in the field of the stele according to a traditional arrangement in registers. They offer here the particularity of being distributed on each of the two sides according to their symbolic perspective. One of the faces is thus devoted to the "historical" dimension and the other to the "mythological" dimension, the first one accounting for the action of men and the second of the intervention of the gods. Human determination and divine protection are thus combined to lead to victory.