Byzantine and Russian icons, £15.99
Height: 81.300 cm
Width: 78.700 cm
Brought from Carchemish in 1879 by Consul Philip Henderson
Basalt relief of a gazelle
Neo-Hittite, 9th century BC
From Carchemish, south-east Anatolia (modern Turkey)
This basalt relief comes from the Neo-Hittite city of Carchemish. In the first millennium BC Carchemish consisted of a high citadel mound on the River Euphrates, with a walled inner town and an outer town. Excavations revealed a processional way which led to the temple of the storm god and to a monumental stairway to the citadel. The whole complex was decorated with basalt and limestone sculptures. It is not clear where this relief came from: it may have decorated the monumental stairway itself. It was sketched by George Smith of the British Museum in 1876 and was brought to the Museum in 1879.
After the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1200 BC, Hittite culture survived in places such as Carchemish which had once been under Hittite control. These Neo-Hittites wrote Luwian, a language related to Hittite, using a hieroglyphic script first seen in the second millennium BC.
D.G. Hogarth, Carchemish I (London, The British Museum Press, 1969)
C.L. Woolley, Carchemish III (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1952)