The clues to this story are
in the Assyria galleries on the ground floor of
the British Museum as well as up the wide, white
staircase in Room 56. The narrative frieze in
Room 10b is full of images showing the horrific
realities of war. These include lines of
prisoners in hand-cuffs, piles of severed heads,
tortured bodies and families of refugees fleeing
with their goods and animals. Archaeological
items on display from the wars fought at the
time of the Agushaya story include sling-stones,
arrow-heads and burnt olive pips. The main
story-clue iupstairs is an ancient clay mould
for making small statues of Ishtar, the goddess
of war. It’s a mirror-image in 3D.
Agushaya story tells how Ishtar became so
aggressive that Ea created from the dirt under
his finger-nails a mirror image match for her.
The name of this monstrous goddess was Saltu,
meaning “strife”. Ishtar sent her helper
Ninshubar to see Saltu and report back to her.
Saltu was so terrifying that Ninshubar was
reduced to stammering and stuttering.
Infuriated, Ishtar asked Ea what was going on.
He explained that Saltu would continue to exist
until Ishtar became less aggressive. He had
created Saltu to show Ishtar what she was like.
Ishtar became quieter so as to be rid of Saltu
and be known as Agushya. Ea initiated an annual
festival of crazy dancing to remind people of
the perils of excessive aggression.