Illustrated introduction to Mesopotamia, £8.99
Fragment of gold belt
Iron Age, 8th-7th century BC
Perhaps from Ziwiyeh, north-west Iran
Ibexes, stags and heads of lions
This fragment of gold sheet is said to come from Ziwiyeh in north-west Iran. This site is a large mountain top citadel fortified by a massive wall. The citadel is approached by a monumental staircase cut out of the rock which winds around the mountain. The site attracted clandestine excavators and many objects, now scattered in museums around the world, are alleged to have come from here. The looting of the site occurred about 1946 when local shepherd boys are supposed to have discovered some gold objects. These drew the attention of villagers and then of antiquities dealers to the site.
The style of the stags along the edge of this piece is thought be influenced by Scythian or south Russian art. The strip may have been part of a belt similar to contemporary Urartian examples (such as ANE 139628). It is suggested that the Ziwiyeh material may have come from the tomb of a Scythian prince, or a Median chieftain. However, Ziwiyeh was most probably a stronghold of the Manneans, an indigenous people of the Zagros Mountains, mentioned in Assyrian records. To the north of this region Scythians followed their traditional life-style, with horse-borne warrior-elites maintaining their social position through rich booty acquired on raids.
J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)