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Work Hunting scene with chariot

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Anatolia

Hunting scene in a chariot

© 1985 RMN / Pierre et Maurice Chuzeville

Near Eastern Antiquities

Demange Françoise

Chariot scenes were one of the favorite subjects of the relief art that reached its apogee in the independent principalities that emerged in southeastern Anatolia and northern Syria after the fall of the Hittite Empire in about 1200 BC. A particularly brilliant school of sculpture developed in the kingdom of Milid (Malatya), as is witnessed by this relief of a deer hunt, in which the legacy of Hittite art combines with influences from Mesopotamia and Syria.

A deer hunt

The hunting of deer is a very old theme in the iconography of the Hittite world, and is depicted as conducted from a chariot in this orthostat relief discovered at Malatya in southeastern Anatolia. Such bas-relief slabs were applied to the lower part of the walls in palaces and official buildings. While they had a decorative role, they were also functional, protecting the base of a wall constructed of unbaked brick.

The influence of Assyrian relief

Despite the fall of the Hittite Empire in about 1200 BC, in southeastern Anatolia and northern Syria Hittite culture survived in a series of successor principalities. Malatya, the kingdom of Milid, was one of the most flourishing of these small Neo-Hittite kingdoms. In the 11th century BC, a school of sculpture that continued to work with the traditional forms of Hittite relief was estabished there. This deer hunt relief is, however, more recent, betraying the growing influence of the Assyrian Empire on the kingdom even before it fell under the Assyrian sway in the 8th century BC.

A war chariot

Inscribed with the name of Maradash, a king of Milid whose precise regnal dates are unknown, this relief shows two figures dressed in the local style riding on a light chariot. This type of chariot with its single axle had relatively small wheels with only six spokes. A spear or pike can be seen in the back of the chariot and two crossed quivers are fastened to the side: these details allow the relief to be dated to around the 11th century BC. Though these fast and maneuverable chariots might be used for hunting, their main role was military. In accordance with a convention later abandoned, only one horse is shown, although there were in fact a pair. As the bowman prepares to shoot his arrow, the driver has the reins firmly in hand, matching his speed to that of the fleeing deer; the hunters are accompanied by a dog. Above the horse's back can be seen the rigid pole of the chariot. The horse has no bit, and the reins seem to be fastened directly to the bridle; a belly band with two pompoms can be seen behind the shoulder, while the head would have been crowned with a plume.


Alexander David, Furusiyya II : The Horse in the Art of the Near East, Riyadh, 1997, n 91.
Caubet Annie et Bernus-Taylor Marthe, Le Louvre, les antiquités orientales et islamiques, Paris, Éditions Scala, coll. "Les Grands Musées", 1993, p. 66.
Delaporte Louis-Joseph, Malatya, la Porte des Lions, Paris, 1940, p. 66, pl. XXXII.
Madhloom, The Chronology of Neo-assyrian Art, Londres, 1970, pl. VI, fig. 5.
Vieyra Maurice, Hittite Art, Londres, A. Tiranti, 1955, pl. 66.

Technical description

  • Hunting scene in a chariot

    Neo-Hittite period, 9th century BC

    Malatya, Turkey

  • Limestone

    H. 43 cm; W. 78.50 cm; D. 17 cm

  • Acquired in 1891 , 1891

    AM 255

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

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