A SYRO-HITTITE TERRACOTTA CHARIOT AND THREE MULES

A SYRO-HITTITE TERRACOTTA CHARIOT AND THREE MULES


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Near Eastern: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1235545
Biblical Artifacts
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c. Late 3rd Millennium - Early 2nd Millennium B.C.

This piece depicts a somewhat stylized representation of a two-wheeled chariot accompanied by three equids, most likely mules or donkeys. Comprised of a narrow central platform, the design of the vehicle closely resembles that of vehicles used on a regular basis for the transport of people and goods in the regions of Northern Syria and Anatolia at this time. In the front of the platform is a shield, rectangular with the exception of the rounded top terminating in two horns. The shield has been pierced with three holes which are representations of the holes for the draft pole and the rein guides which would have appeared on actual carts of the period. The axel runs through the front of the vehicle and is capped with a wheel on either side. Each wheel is rendered realistically, with an incised line to delineate the tire that would have been attached. The rear of the cart consists of only a diminutive seat. Many examples of these cart or chariot models have been found in cultic contexts and the unusually large size of this piece supports is inclusion in a cultic role.

The equids are depicted in a simplistic, although realistic fashion, with the primary emphasis being placed on the representation of those details relevant to the recognition of the species and its role as a draft animal. To this end the mule’s tail, short mane and muzzle are well delineated with special attention given to the depiction of the harness, rendered by the application of clay strips to the muzzle of the mule. It is unlikely that these animals represent horses as they were less common at this time and were normally depicted with a long untrimmed mane and a fuller tale. Generally, these vehicles were drawn by one or two teams of animals, suggesting that this group may have originally contained an additional equid figure.

Similar examples of these types of carts are well attested to throughout Northern Mesopotamian, most extensively in areas such as Tell Brak, Tell Arbid and Tell Beydar in what is now north-eastern Syria. Additionally, similar, although smaller, models can be found from Southern Mesopotamia in the Kish Collection of The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago as well as examples from The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. It has been suggested that although developed in the south these wheeled vehicles were more readily adopted in the areas of Southern Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia where the landscape made their use less cumbersome. This southern influence is not surprising when one considers that this region was very much a melting pot of cultures due to its place along trade routes. This allowed areas such as Tell Brak and others to incorporate styles and ideas from Southern and North Mesopotamia, as well as a heavy Anatolian influence, to create a style all their own which we today call Syro-Hittite.

Dimensions:

Cart: 11.5 x 12 x 10 inches (29.21 x 30.48 x 25.4 cms)

Equids: 8.5 x 7.5 inches (21.59 x 19.05 cms)

Confirmed authentic by Oxford TL Testing

Worldwide shipping and Certificate of Authenticity included in price

Export Approval from Israel Antiquities Authority

Bibliography:

Raccidi, Mattia, ‘Wagons and Carts in the 3rd Millennium BC Syrian Jazirah: A Study Through the Documentation’ in Chasing Chariots: Proceedings of the First International Chariot Conference (Cairo 2012), eds. Andre J. Veldmeijer and Salima Ikram (Leiden: 2013), 175-190.

Crouwel, J. H. and Littauer, M.A., Wheeled Vehicles and Ridden Animals in the Ancient Near East (Leiden/Köln: 1979)

The Kish Collection, The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford