Height: 9.400 cm
Length: 13.000 cm
Excavated by William Kennett Loftus
Room 52: Ancient Iran
Parthian, 1st-2nd century AD
From Uruk, southern Iraq
A participant at a banquet
This figure wears the typical Parthian costume of tunic and trousers. It was excavated at Uruk by W.K. Loftus in 1850. The plaque was among grave offerings that included pottery and glass vessels and gold jewellery. They were found with a type of pottery coffin known from its shape as a slipper coffin. During this period, the city of Uruk continued to flourish as a religious centre and city. Its temples were rebuilt on a massive scale.
The figure is presumably participating in a banquet. This theme was traditional in the ancient Near East, and is also found in the art of Greece and Rome. Banqueting often formed part of funeral rites.
Following the conquest of the Persian empire by Alexander the Great in 334-331 BC, Mesopotamia and Iran were controlled by the Seleucid dynasty. In about 238 BC, however, the Parthians seized control of the province of Parthia, situated east of the Caspian Sea. By the time of the death of the Parthian king Mithradates I in 138 BC, the Parthians were in control of much of the Iranian plateau, along with Mesopotamia and part of central Asia.
J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
V.S. Curtis, 'Parthian costume and culture' in Mesopotamia and Iran in the -1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)