Bronze model of a city wall

Urartian, late 8th century BC
From Toprakkale (ancient Rusahinili), eastern Turkey

Fortifications shown on a small scale

This bronze model of a city wall comes from Toprakkale (ancient Rusahinili) in Urartu, the site of a major temple of the god Haldi. Urartian texts show that Haldi was the principal deity of the Urartian pantheon, always named first in the trinity with Teisheba (storm god) and Shiwini (sun god).The function of the model is not known. It could have been dedicated in the temple to ensure the protection of the city, or presented by a vassal city (as depicted on some Assyrian relief sculpture). Equally it could have been part of a wheeled hearth similar to one found at Nimrud in Assyria. Urartu, centred on Lake Van, was the northern neighbour and rival of the Assyrian empire during the ninth to the seventh centuries BC and adopted many of the artistic traditions of Mesopotamia.

The architectural details on the model provide information about fortifications of this time. They include a double-winged gate that arches at the top; rectangular windows; stepped battlements; and a high, narrow tower. The lower part of the walls and the window frames would have been made of beautifully cut and fitted stone blocks. The upper part of the wall would have been of mud brick and the parapets rested on jutting beams.

The kingdom of Urartu had disappeared before 600 BC, 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.

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More information


D. Frankel, The ancient kingdom of Urartu (London, The British Museum Press, 1979)

M. Caygill, The British Museum A-Z compani (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

R. Merhav, Urartu: a metalworking centre (Jerusalem, Israel Museum, 1991)

M. Roaf, Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia (New York, 1990)

R.D. Barnett, 'The excavations of the British Museum at Toprak Kale near Van', Iraq-6, 12 (1950)


Height: 28.000 cm
Width: 36.000 cm
Height: 28.000 cm

Museum number

ME 91177;ME 91250


Obtained by A.H. Layard (1877)


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