102. Scar-Faced Monster Man

Eastern Iran, late 3rd millennium BC
Size: 11.8 cm high

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The big question that the group of figures to which this belongs raises is this: what does the scar across their face represent? In this case the scar is inlaid and emphasized with fossilized shell, possibly unique among the known examples. Unusually, also, this muscled figure is all of a piece, whereas the others are constructed of three pieces fitted together, with the skirt of alabaster or limestone, more rarely of copper.

It is probably pointless to try to interpret an image that last made sense 4,000 years ago. These images are commonly accorded the rather meaningless title of ‘heroes’, like Gilgamesh. The real heroes of our early societies must have been the shamans, the people who addressed the spiritual requirements of society. So perhaps the scar represents the ‘cut’ that has freed them from the blinding conditioning of ordinary humanity.