This faded, tattered old picture is something more personal than our usual offerings here at Clio Ancient Art: A 1947 photo of my extended family, on my mother’s side, on a day trip to visit the ruins of Babylon. They are gathered around, and on, the guardian lion at the Ishtar Gate, carved from basalt and dating to the 6th Century BC.
Is it any wonder I pursued archaeology in academia and later became an antiquities dealer?
Much has changed in the world of archaeology, and in the legitimate antiquities trade, since this image was taken. The very scene where this was taken has undergone dramatic changes, none of them for the better, and not one person in this image is still alive. But whatever tumult this lion of Babylon has seen in the last few decades is certainly no worse than what had come before.
Perhaps this stone lion is a reminder to us of the valuable lessons history has to offer, and the beautiful handiwork of human creativity, if we are prepared to stop and examine the past without sectarian, nationalist, ethnic or religious prejudice.