This morning (I know, hours ago), I was innocently eating my breakfast and looking through the paper and watching last night’s double episode of NOVA. This was “The Bible’s Buried Secrets”, and it was quite good. (Note that I was unable to watch a few minutes in the middle concerning the very interesting devotional practices associated with Solomon’s Temple, since there was a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. Not PBS’ s fault.)
Imagine my surprise when I looked up to see a handsome reconstruction of a great gate in Babylon, decorated with animals in silhouette. Some are lions, and some are aurochs (wild cattle, now extinct, but common at the time throughout Eurasia), and some were something that looked pretty much like giant Josefs.
A little digging around reminded me that this is the Ishtar Gate, the ceremonial eighth gate of Babylon at the height of its power. I’m sure I’ve seen it a million times over the course of my education, and I guess it sank in further than I knew. Because if you add the ears and subtract the scales, these mus ussu (usually translated as “dragons”) had to be primary influences on the design of Josef.
The things you learn about your own work while watching unrelated documentaries. Read more about Ishtar Gate, including why I would like to talk myself into a flying visit to Berlin, on the Wikipedia here.