Height: 19.680 cm
Obtained by A.H. Layard (1877)
Room 54: Ancient Turkey
Bronze lion's foot
Urartian, late 8th century BC
From Toprakkale (ancient Rusahinili), eastern Anatolia (modern Turkey)
From a piece of furniture
This large bronze foot (one of two discovered) comes from Toprakkale (ancient Rusahinili) in Urartu, the site of a major temple of the god Haldi. It was probably fitted onto the leg of a table or a bed. The knuckles and claws would have been inlaid, as would the ornament on the front. This consists of two Anatolian sun symbols above an Urartian version of the Egyptian winged sun disc.
In antiquity furniture was primarily of wood. Costlier materials like bronze were used mainly for decoration. Representations of decorated furniture can be seen on Urartian engravings and also on contemporary Assyrian reliefs.The kingdom of Urartu was particularly known for fine metal-work, and Urartian bronzes were highly prized by the Assyrians, who list quantities of bronze objects amongst captured Urartian booty. This foot was made using the lost-wax casting method.
Urartu, centred on Lake Van, was the northern neighbour and rival of the Assyrian Empire from the ninth to the seventh centuries BC but it had disappeared before 600 BC. It was possibly destroyed by raids of horse-borne warriors, known to the Greeks as Scythians, associated with the Medes from western Iran. The name survives, however, in that of its highest mountain, Ararat.
R. Merhav, Urartu: a metalworking centre (Jerusalem, Israel Museum, 1991)
R.D. Barnett, 'The excavations of the British Museum at Toprak Kale near Van', Iraq-6, 12 (1950)