The Discoveries at Tell el-'Obeid in Southern Babylonia, and Some Egyptian Comparisons
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
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... ling with the results of excavation in the sister-land, Babylonia, may be found in the very interesting discussion of the Treasure of Astrabad by Prof. ROSTOVTZEFF, which appeared in the volume for 19201. It is true that the treasure of Astrabad is said to have been discovered not in Babylonia but in Northern Persia, near the Turkoman border, but i is certainly Sumerian, s Prof. ROSTOVTZEFF said, and in the opinion of some was more probably made in Babylonia and exported to Persia, peacefully or otherwise, than of local fabric. Whether therefore it is a proof of the existence of a local Sumerian or Sumerized art up north, as Prof. ROSTOVTZEFF seems to think, is doubtful. However that may be, the publication of the Russian professor's article in our journal enabled it tobe illustrated atfar more satisfactorily than it could possibly have been in any of the British scientific journals dealing with Mesopotamian study. As usual, these journals are concerned mainly with history and philology, and their format is not adapted to adequate illustration of works of art, the consideration of which has, it is true, come but rarely within the purview of our Assyriologists. Let us hope that in the future cuneiform scholars will turn their attention towards archaeology and art more than they have in the past. In any case the provision of a British journal in which Mesopotamian art can properly be exhibited is a crying need, though happily the place of such a journal can occasionally be taken by the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. This can the more appropriately happen when, as in the case of early Sumerian art, interesting comparisons and parallels can be drawn with the contemporary art of early Egypt. After having slumbered for some years, the question of early relations between Egypt and Babylonia has been awakened by M. BENEDITE'S publication of the extraordinary knife-handle from Gebel al-'Arak2, with its apparent mixture of predynastic Egyptian with Babylonian, or as some have suggested, even Elamite forms; and the matter seems now ripe for further discussion. The pages of an Egyptological journal are the most appropriate medium for the discussion of a question so vital to our knowledge of the early history of Egypt. And the discoveries of the British Museum expedition at Tell el-'Obeid in Southern Babylonia in 1919 have suggested several interesting comparisons with early Egyptian art, which may be added to our dossier on this subject. On this account I publish here a description of the finds, with photographs which the format of this journal enables us to reproduce satisfactorily.