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Pendant: Hittite divinity

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN / Raphaël Chipault

Near Eastern Antiquities

Arnaud Prévotat, Annie Caubet

No large statue of the Hittite period has been found in Anatolia. Most would in fact have been made of such precious materials as gold, silver or bronze, which would almost certainly have been reused. This pendant, however, perhaps gives us some idea of larger statuary. A similar piece is held by the British Museum, demonstrating the existence of a shared canon, or the diffusion of models.

A storm god

This figurine has a ring on the back, making it an amulet pendant. The divinity of the figure is indicated by the tall conical tiara, and the short loincloth and the sword identifies him as a warrior god, perhaps Teshub, god of the storm. The figure may be compared to that in the sculpted reliefs of the great rock-cut sanctuary of Yazilkaya, representing the pantheon responsible for protecting the empire and the royal family.

History of the Hittite Empire

Based on an older Anatolian foundation, Hittite civilization began to develop in the 17th century BC, when a dynasty succeeded in drawing together under its authority a mosaic of small Central Anatolian states, establishing its capital at Hattusha, modern Bogazkoÿ, and endeavoring to expand its territories as far as Babylonia. Suppiluliuma I (14th century BC) and his successors of the new Hittite Empire supported an ‘imperial art’ evidenced by fortifications, palaces and temples adorned with mythological reliefs and guardian animals. Having developed into a major international power, the Hittites contended with the Egyptians for the possession of Syria: the Battle of Qadesh (c. 1285 BC) fought between Muwatalli II and Ramesses II, was indecisive, and it was the great migration of the Sea Peoples that destroyed the Hittite Empire. In the 10th century, principalities began to re-establish themselves on the periphery, notably in Northern Syria: fortified cities were built, adorned with monumental sculptures and hieroglyphic inscriptions, perpetuating the traditions of the second millennium.

Hittite art in the Louvre

Despite its very small size, the Yozgat Amulet is a highly typical example of Hittite imperial art, which also included monumental sculpture, decorative objets d’art, sophisticated jewelry and ceramics in a range of techniques; a fine selection may be seen at the Louvre, thanks to the efforts of such scholars as Ernest Chantre. Deputy director of the Museum of Natural History in Lyon and professor of ethnology at the university in that city, his desire for a greater understanding of Hittite civilization led him to undertake the systematic exploration of Cappadocia, under the auspices of the French Ministry of Public Education. In the course of his two expeditions in 1893 and 1894, he carried out sondages at Alaça Hoyik, Bogazkoy and Kültepe and bought antiquities from the inhabitants. Together with those found in the Ankara region by Paul Gaudin and Fr. de Genouillac, the pieces he brought back form the core of the Louvre’s Anatolian collection. In the absence of the characteristic Hittite monumental sculpture, this pottery with its relief decoration and this little figurine from Yozgat illustrate certain characteristic features of the Anatolian civilizations in their relationships with the Levant and Mesopotamia. This little amulet of a Hittite god displays an affinity with Syrian statuettes representing storm gods.

Technical description

  • Pendant: Hittite divinity

    14th-13th century BC


  • Gold

    H. 3.80 cm; W. 1.30 cm; D. 1.30 cm

  • Chantre expedition, 1894 , 1894

    AO 9647

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

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