In ancient Babylon, the mushhushshu (pronounced “moosh-hoosh-shoo”) was a divine creature associated with Marduk, the main god of the city. “Mushhushshu” means "furious snake," but the animal’s body combines the head and scales of a snake, the claws of an eagle, the legs of a lion, and a tail ending in a scorpion’s stinger. This Mushhushshu was one of the protective animal figures on Babylon’s Ishtar Gate. Nearly five stories tall, and built to impress, the Ishtar Gate was part of the Processional Way, a ceremonial road leading into the walled city.
Artist Babylonian, Mesopotamian
Title
  • Mushhushshu-dragon, Symbol of the God Marduk
  • Snake-Dragon, Symbol of Marduk, the Patron God of Babylon; Panel from the Ishtar Gate (former title)
  • Ishtar Gate, Dragon of Marduk (former title)
Date 604 - 562 BCE
Medium molded and glazed baked brick
Dimensions Overall: 45 1/2 × 65 3/4 inches (115.6 × 167 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund
Accession Number 31.25
Department Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View Ancient Middle East Gallery, Level 1 (see map)
(Babylon, Iraq).
Vorderasiastisches Museum (Berlin, Germany);
1931-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA 12, 7 (1931): p. 78.

Cottrell, Leonard, ed. The Concise Encyclopaedia of Archaeology. London, 1960, p. 105 (pl. 4).

Themes in World Literature. 1970, p. 505 (ill.).

DIA Handbook. 1971, p. 30.

Peck, W. H. Archaeology 31, 18 (May/June 1978): (ill.).

cf. Orthmann, W. Propylaen Kunstgeschichte 14. Der Alte Orient. (col. pl. 26, pl. 252).

Family Art Game, DIA Advertising Supplement. Detroit News, April 14, 1985, p. 28 (ill.).

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, p.26-27 (ill.).

Matson, F. R. "Glazed Brick from Babylon - Historical Setting and Microprobe Analyses." Ceramics and Civilization, Vol 2. Columbus, OH, 1986, pp. 148,152,156.

Henshaw, Julia P., ed. A Visitors Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 95(ill.).