Art: Men of Mystery

In the Brooklyn Museum stands a splendid statuette of almost solid copper, silently questioning knowledgeable visitors. The questions: "Do I represent a hero, a king, a priest, a demon, a god, or some ancient's idea of a joke? Was I molded and cast by a Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Kassite, Hurrian, Hyksos, Elamite, or by some barbaric genius of the Caucasus? Was my native city Eridu, perhaps, or Susa. Persepolis, Nineveh, Larsa, Lagash, Umma, Ur, Alalakh, or Hattusas? Am I 5,000 years old, or closer to a mere 3,000?"

An almost identical (though slightly damaged)...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!