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Work Statuette of a warrior god

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Anatolia

Statuette of a warrior god

© Photo RMN / Franck Raux

Near Eastern Antiquities
Anatolia

Author(s):
Castor Marie-Jo

Acquired at Latakia, not far from Ras Shamra, this bronze statuette is believed to be of Syro-Hittite origin, as the rulers of the new Hittite Empire had extended their dominion over a large part of Syria in the 14th century BC. The town of Ugarit (present-day Ras Shamra) maintained an artistic tradition of its own.

A storm god

This bronze statuette, which has lost its arms, depicts a warrior walking forward. The break shows that the right arm was raised, presumably brandishing a weapon, suggesting that this is a storm god hurling lightning, such as was worshipped in the Levant and the Hittite world during the Late Bronze Age. There was originally an applied headdress, perhaps in another material, and the eyes were inlaid. The face has high cheekbones, a relatively large nose, and a small mouth with very thin lips. There were earrings in the large ears.
The hair, in a single braid, falls down to the lower back. The rendering of the breast is underscored by deep incisions in the metal. The narrow waist is encircled by a belt that holds up a short wrap-around loincloth whose fringed hem follows the line of the thigh. The legs are muscular, with well-marked knees and calves, the feet shod in boots.
Produced using the lost-wax technique, this figurine would originally have been covered in fine gold sheet, a trace of which survives on the left side. In fact, a deep slit runs the whole length, on top of the shoulders between neck and arms, down the left side of the body, and behind the legs (and boots), into which the gold was fitted. Beneath the feet are tenons to attach the statuette to a base.

A Syro-Hittite hybrid

Comparing this statuette to the figure depicted in bas-relief on one of the sideposts of the King's Door at Hattusa (Bogazköy), one notes first of all the stylistic similarities: the same muscular body (with pectorals and shoulder blades emphasized to bring out the athletic vigor of the warlike god), well-marked features (the square face, high cheekbones and large, almond-shaped eyes). In the dress, one sees the same short loincloth ending above the knees, the belt at the waist, the boots with their upturned tips. The headdress missing from the Louvre's statuette probably consisted of a cap or bonnet like the one at Hattusa, sometimes decorated with a triple row of horns, an attribute of divinity. These features belong to the iconographic tradition of the Hittite world. Yet the technique is that of the bronze figurines with tenons from Syria, dating from the 14th and 13th centuries BC. The worship of the storm god, well attested at Ugarit, as exemplified by the Louvre's stela of Baal with lightning, was also widespread among the Hittites.

Bibliography

Huit millénaires de civilisation anatolienne, catalogue de l'exposition, Paris, Maison de l'UNESCO, 1981, p. 21.
Seeeden H., The standing Armed Figurines in the Levant, Munich, Beck'sche, 1980, p. 113.
Sharp Joukowsky M., Earley turkey, Anatolian Archaeology from Prehistory through the Lydian Period.-Dubuque, Iowa, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1996, pp. 262-263.

Technical description

  • Statuette of a warrior god

    13th century BC

    Found in Latakia, northern Syria

  • Bronze

    H. 15.50 cm; W. 3.80 cm; D. 5.50 cm

  • Acquired in 1864 , 1864

    AO 11187

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Anatolian civilizations, from the earliest times to the 1st millennium BC
    Room 230
    Display case 3: Hittite Empire. Period of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms

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Additional information about the work

Photo RMN 93 CE 1612