History of the Persian Empire, £25.00
Length: 8.800 cm
Width: 7.000 cm
Gift of Lewis Clarke
Room 52: Ancient Iran
Bronze harness ring
Luristan culture, 10th-7th century BC
From Luristan, western Iran
This object is among a variety of elaborate metal horse-trappings produced and used in Luristan. Such wheel-shaped pieces, of which many survive, probably served as ornaments for the horse's headstall. They are decorated at the top either with the complete figure of a moufflon or more commonly, as here, just with the head of a moufflon flanked by other beasts.
Virtually all such bronzes come from plundered cemeteries of stone-built graves in the Luristan region. These vary considerably in date, but are predominantly of the early first millennium BC. At a number of sites, bronzes were also deposited in shrines.
The bronzes are cast using the lost-wax process. Most objects are unique, but they are related in style and decoration to a range of objects widely distributed in western Iran.
The bronze workers of Luristan excelled particularly in producing decoration for horses. At this time, as Assyrian reliefs make clear, cavalry was rapidly replacing chariotry as the main mobile force in most Near Eastern armies. Throughout the Late Assyrian period (about 1000-612 BC) many horses for the Assyrian armies came from the plains of western Iran.
J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
P.R.S. Moorey, Ancient bronzes from Luristan (London, The British Museum Press, 1974)