Limestone tripod bowl

From Tell Halaf (ancient Guzana), north-east Syria, 9th-8th century BC

This limestone tripod vessel may have been an incense burner. It was found in a pit, possibly a cremation grave, beneath a statue. It is very similar in shape to basalt examples found at the same site, although much more elaborately decorated. The hunting scene with which it is carved may have some mythological significance, but the precise significance is unknown.

Tell Halaf was an important Aramaean state in north Syria. Its ancient name was Guzana and it is mentioned in the records of the Assyrians as they expanded towards the area from their centre on the River Tigris. A large number of inscriptions and sculptures have been found at the site from the reign of a king called Kapara. His exact date is uncertain but it was probably the tenth century BC. It was beneath one of these statues that the vessel was discovered.

Although the Hittite Empire had disappeared around 1200 BC many of the city-states of Syria retained Hittite traditions, including the style of art and writing. This is why they are sometimes referred to as 'Neo-Hittite'.

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More information


M. Von Oppenheim, Tell Halaf (London, G.P. Putnam's, 1931)

B. Hrouda, Tell Halaf IV (Berlin, Walter de Gruyter Co., 1962)


Height: 12.000 cm
Diameter: 11.000 cm

Museum number

ME 1920-12-11, 477



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