Gold ornament

Hittite, 13th century BC
From Carchemish, south-east Anatolia (modern Turkey)

Hittite deities on a miniature scale

This is a small strip of gold with openwork decoration. It must originally have been part of a very rich object, but is very fragmentary. On the photograph the original gold fragments have been mounted on a painted reconstruction to illustrate what the strip may have looked like. Many of the figures represent Hittite deities. They are very like the gods carved in the thirteenth century BC on the rock of the open-air shrine at Yazilikaya near the Hittite capital of Hattusa (modern Bogazköy) in central Anatolia. Since this is the probable date of the gold strip, the object it decorated must have been an heirloom, as it was found in a grave dating from the seventh century BC. The rich grave also contained a cylinder of lapis lazuli, gold beads, inlaid gold figures and gold tassels from the ends of a belt.

The burial was discovered by Leonard Woolley when he was excavating the Neo-Hittite levels at Carchemish. Unusually, it was a cremation burial within the walls of the city: most cemeteries for cremation burials were outside the walls of settlements at that time. The cremated bones were in a coarse domestic vessel instead of the normal urn, and because the burial was very rich, Woolley suggested that it might have been that of an important person who died during the siege of Carchemish by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 605 BC.

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Length: 13.500 cm
Height: 3.500 cm

Museum number

ME 116245



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