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HOME : Biblical Antiquities : Masterpieces of Biblical Art : Syro-Hittite sculpture of a dignitary
Syro-Hittite sculpture of a dignitary - CB.70
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 1400 BC to 900 BC
Dimensions: 28.2" (71.6cm) high x 11.4" (29.0cm) wide x 9.4" (23.9cm) depth
Collection: Anatolian
Medium: Basalt

Additional Information: Provenance: Noriyoshi Horiuchi, Tokyo

Location: Great Britain
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The Hittites were an Asia Minor population who inhabited a number of city-states scattered across the mountainous plateau of Anatolia. They were the first people in the area to mine and use iron, and by 1600 BCE they had firmly established themselves making Hattusa (today's Bogazkale, or Bogazkoy) the capital of their kingdom, before expanding to control most of the surrounding region. The ancient art of the Hittite kingdom - notably its architecture and relief sculpture - was produced largely during this imperial phase which reached its height during the 14th century BC. During this period the Hittites controlled an area that included most of the Anatolia, Upper Mesopotamia (Iraq) as well as Syria and Lebanon. Although Hittite art has its own particular style, it was undoubtedly influenced by Sumerian art - the leading cultural strain within Mesopotamian art - and also by Egyptian art, not least because of the Egyptian’s supreme craftsmanship at stone cutting and carving. Assyrian art, too, would eventually have an important part to play but only several centuries later. The Hittite empire collapsed about 1180, but the Hittites reappeared in several "Neo-Hittite" city-states - which they controlled in collaboration with Aramaeans and other populations - some of which endured until around 750 BCE. Our main source of knowledge about Hittite culture derives from the archeological discovery of royal archives in the Hittite capital of Hattusa. These archives consisted of hundreds of stone tablets inscribed in Mesopotamian cuneiform letters, written in the Semitic language of Babylonia and Assyria. One of the most revealing tablets (written in Akkadian script and dating to c.1275-1220 BC) contains correspondence from the Egyptian Queen Nefertari (wife of Ramses II) to the Hittite Queen Puduhepa, presently preserved in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, in Ankara. Statue in grey basalt of a highly stylised seated bearded male figure, wearing a high circular headdress and holding a food dish in his right hand; the feet indicated in a rectangular recess below, with long grooved beard and centrally parted hair falling in grooved straight strands over the shoulders and forehead. In the location of Tell Halaf, in Syria, several statues of this type were found in tomb chapels and have been thus associated with the burials of high-ranking individuals. Funerary reliefs depicting people seated in the exact same posture and holding food dishes have also been excavated in Marash in southeastern Turkey. Tel Halaf is an ancient Mesopotamian archaeological site situated at the headwaters of the Khabur River in northeastern Syria. Here, the remains of a long lost Neolithic culture were uncovered by a group of German archaeologists between the years of 1899 and 1927. The artifacts unearthed included pottery painted with geometric designs and animal motifs as well as terracotta figures. These finds indicated that this site was once a thriving city during the 5th millennium B.C. The city was recorded as a tributary city-state of Gozan by the Assyrian king Adad-nirari II, suggesting that this ancient city remained an important centre for well over three thousand years. - (CB.70)


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