Byzantine and Russian icons, £15.99
Height: 24.000 cm
Width: 14.500 cm
Room 54: Anatolia and Urartu
Early Bronze Age, around 2350 BC
Probably from Alaca Hüyük, modern Turkey
This silver bull with gold inlay on a copper stand may have come from the top of a pole supporting a canopy over a rich burial. It is very similar to those found with jewellery and daggers in princely graves at Alaca Hüyük (now mostly in the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, Ankara).
The thirteen 'Royal Tombs' at Alaca Hüyük were shallow rectangular pits containing the remains of males and females buried together. The cemetery may have served an official group of people. The bodies were in one corner of the grave, and were positioned facing south, with a pile of funerary objects in front of them. The wooden roofs of the tombs were flat and covered over with earth. The perimeter of each tomb was marked with stones. The dead were richly adorned, and were accompanied by standards decorated with distinctive stags and bulls made of bronze and silver. It is these that provide close comparisons for this bull. Alaca Hüyük may have been the centre of an influential and wealthy merchant kingdom.
D. Collon, 'Ancient Anatolia', British Museum Magazine: th-10, 16 (1993)
J. Mellaart, The Calcolithic and Early Bron (London, 1966)
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
J. Rawson, Animals in art (London, The British Museum Press, 1977)