Sumeran ghouls

February 3, 2022

The objects pictured here are thousands of years old, dated around 300 BCE. Made from alabaster and stone, they were retrieved from archeological digs on the southern Arabian peninsula.

They’re called stela or stele (both pronounced steela), and are upright stone slabs typically featuring an inscription or design.

I was struck with how similar they looked to Ghoul. I wondered if there was an ancient Sumeran version of myself working with a hammer and chisel instead, walking to the local town square for social updates a little too frequently.

It got me thinking about value perception. There are similarities here to Ghoul, but what is it exactly that makes these so priceless, authentic, and deliciously mysterious?

It’s a combination of surviving the passage of time, the permanence of the medium used to create them, and history – they’re artifacts which provide clues to a civilisation long since gone.

For me it’s a great reminder how important it is to create physical pieces as well as the digital ones, to choose mediums carefully (e.g. stone over plastic) and to build a mythology into Ghoul.

Last year I produced The Artifact, collaborating with a master carpenter to turn a solid slab of raw walnut into a beautifully realised Ghoul puzzle.

The goal is to create one of these artifacts every year, objects that resemble relics from the world of Ghoul. Stumbling across these stelae has given me incredible inspiration for what to build in 2022.

Follow my progress on

Sumeran stelae