Length: 13.970 cm
Width: 6.980 cm
Room 57-59: Ancient Levant
Steatite bowl decorated with a lion
Aramaean, 9th-8th century BC
This steatite bowl may have been used for burning incense. Its style is typical of the Aramaean states of Syria in the early centuries of the first millennium BC.
At the end of the second millennium BC many of the major powers in the Near East suffered from severe political and economic instability. The Hittite Empire disappeared completely. The Aramaeans, who represent a resurgence of the indigenous Syrian population, took control of the small city states of Syria and northern Mesopotamia. However, many of the city-states which had previously been under Hittite control managed to maintain some continuity from the earlier period. Hence they are sometimes known as 'Neo-Hittite', because they retained many traditions, including the style of art, from the now-vanished empire of central Anatolia. During the ninth and eighth centuries BC, the period to which this bowl belongs, the region was at first threatened by and then incorporated into the expanding power of Assyria from the east.
R.D. Barnett, Fifty masterpieces of Ancient (London, The British Museum Press, 1969)