Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Canaanite, around 2000 BC
Said to be from Jezzine, Lebanon
This figure was said to have been found in a hoard four kilometres south of Jezzine, together with two male figures, two female figures and a number of copper torques, beads and pins. It probably represents a deity, who originally held separate weapons in each of his two hands. Such figures may possibly have served as cult idols (statues of deities to which prayers and offerings were made). It is perhaps more likely, though, that they were votive offerings, given by worshippers with prayers to enlist the god's favour or help.
The figure seems to have been cast using the lost-wax technique in a double mould of stone or clay. Already in the third millennium BC several kinds of metal were in use in the Levant, and were both cast and hammered. Lead, copper and bronze were generally cast, while gold and silver were mainly hammered.
H. Seeden, The standing armed figurines i (Munich, Beck, 1980)
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
H. Seeden, 'Some old and new bronzes: true or false', Berytus, 26 (1978)