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Ivory figurine


Height: 11.270 cm

ME 38185

Middle East

    Ivory figurine

    Hittite, 14th-13th century BC
    Probably from Anatolia (modern Turkey)

    This beautiful figurine of a young Hittite girl is made of ivory. Her hair is drawn back and hangs in a pig-tail down her back. She stands in a formal pose with her hands by her sides. The proportions of the figure, lacking curves, show her youth. The treatment is naturalistic except for the stylized ears and the triangles indicating the knees. The pubic triangle was originally inlaid, and other parts of the ivory may have been covered in precious metal.

    The function of the figurine is unknown, but ivory was widely used in the ancient world to decorate furniture The dowel hole in the square base of the figure suggests it was once attached to something.

    From around 1650 BC a Hittite king rebuilt Hattusa (modern Bogazköy) and made it his capital. Between about 1400 and 1200 BC the Hittites established one of the great empires of the ancient Near East, extending into western Anatolia and south into Syria. They adopted many of the traditions of Syria and Mesopotamia, including the cuneiform writing system, and vied with the Egyptians for control of the wealthy Canaanite cities on the coast.

    D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)


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