Ancient sculpture of human face on display

BAGHDAD - A project revealing one of the first sculptural representations of the human face, the Lady of Warka, was presented at the Iraq Museum Wednesday. The scientific and artistic venture was coordinated by Italian academics at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the Italian Embassy, and the presentation dedicated to explaining the significance of the Mesopotamian art piece will be open until March 6. 2018.

 The Lady of Warka is a carved marble female face sculpted in white alabaster in 3,200 B.C. It is likely a representation of the goddess Inanna and was found in the ancient city of Uruk in a place of worship. It has been exhibited as an archaic Sumerian coin, but disappeared in 2003 with the looting of the museum but was returned undamaged a few months later.

 The display of the face will feature new pedestal in transparent synthetic materials that will give a comprehensive view of the piece. The project has inspired a cross-disciplinary dialogue on the extraordinary cultural relevance and value of the Lady of Warka. Images of the Lady have been taken by Lucio Milano, a professor at Ca’ Foscari, and Giorgia Fiorio, an artist and photographer.

 The project aims to raise awareness and strengthen a sense of shared cultural heritage across the world.  

In the exhibit, there are three photogrammetric displays of 36 images extracted from a 360° topography texturing the entire surface of the original masterpiece. There are also four sets of images taken from the sculpture that will be organised to address the different aspects of the piece stemming from visitors’ perceptions.

 “What happens to our brain when we look at the face or at the eyes of a sculpture?” This is one of the many questions raised in the research, explained Lucio Milano, scientific director of Humanum and professor of Near Eastern History at the Department of Humanities at Ca’ Foscari. “To answer such a question we explore reciprocity created when two faces are confronting each other, a human’s face and the one of an anthropomorphic sculpture. And we are able to do that with one of the oldest remains in sculpture history.”