Oxus chariot model

Region of Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan, Achaemenid Persian, 5th-4th century BC

This remarkable model is one of the most outstanding pieces in the Oxus treasure, which dates mainly from the fifth and fourth centuries BC.

The Oxus Treasure is the most important surviving collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period.

The model chariot is pulled by four horses or ponies. In it are two figures wearing Median dress. The Medes were from Iran, the centre of the Achaemenid empire. The front of the chariot is decorated with the Egyptian dwarf-god Bes, a popular protective deity. The chariot can be compared with that shown being ridden by the Persian king Darius on a cylinder seal also in the British Museum.

A second fragmentary gold chariot now in the British Museum was acquired by the Earl of Lytton, the Viceroy of India, about the same time that the Oxus treasure was discovered and is thought to have come from the same source.

The Oxus Treasure


The Oxus treasure consists of about 170 objects, dating mainly from the fifth and fourth centuries BC, the time of Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC).

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Object details

Height: 7.5 cm
Depth: 19.5 cm


ME 123908

On loan to


    Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks


    J. Curtis, Ancient Persia (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

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

    J.Curtis, N. Tallis, Forgotten Empire: The world of Ancient Persia, (London, The British Museum Press, 2005)

    See this object in our Collection database online

    Further reading

    P. Briant, From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire, (Paris, 1996 (2002 Translation)

    J. Curtis, and St. J. Simpson, The World of Achaemenid Persia: The Diversity of Ancient Iran (London, 2010)

    T. Holland, Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West (London, 2005)

    M. Axworthy, Empire of the Mind: a History of Iran. (London, 2008)