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Home > Auctions > 24th May 2022 > Urartian Helmet with Worshipping Scenes and Crowned Kings

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LOT 0319

GBP (£) 40,000 - 60,000
EUR (€) 46,650 - 69,980
USD ($) 49,970 - 74,950

Sold for (Inc. bp): £46,800



A Urartian or Assyrian helmet raised from a single bronze sheet, decorated with three circumferential raised ribs above the brim alternating with incised volutes forming a decorative chain around the helmet; a raised vertical rib with a lion's head terminal to the front of the helmet, flanked by six arched ribs each with an animal-head terminal formed as a snake, a ram and a bull; beneath the raised brows an incised worshipping scene with two crowned kings (or a king and a prince) with their hands raised in attitude of worship; the left hand figure with two eunuchs behind him, each armed with a bow, arrows and a long sword; the right hand figure preceded by a tall winged god, possibly Shivini-Shamash, and followed by a dignitary armed with a long sword, a winged genii to each side; the central scene is the meeting point of a long procession incised around the rim of the helmet, consisting of royal attendants dressed in long Assyrian costume and carrying gifts such as cattle, gold, clothing and wine; the rim with pierced holes for fastening of leather lining and cheek-pieces; mounted on a custom-made display stand. 11 1/4 in. (17 3/4 in.) (1.04 kg, 28.6 cm high (2.35 kg total, 45 cm including stand)). Fine condition. A large heavily decorated museum-quality example.

Previously in a private family collection, kept in the UK since the 1960s.
London art market, acquired from the above.
Private UK collection, acquired from the above 20th June 2017.
Accompanied by an archaeological report by military specialist Dr Raffaele D'Amato.
Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate number S00126093, dated 18 July 2017.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11170-187280.

Cf. Barnett, R.D., Watson, W., ‘Russian Excavations in Armenia’ in Iraq, vol.14, no.2, fig.15, and pls.XXXII,2, XXXIII,2; Borchardt, J.,Homerische Helme: Helmenformen der Ágāis in ihren Beziehungen zu orientalischen und europäischen Helmen in der Bronze-und frühen Eisenzeit, Mainz, 1972, pp.103ff., fig.9, p.107, 10-12, p.108; pl.34,4; Born, H., Seidl, U., Schutzwaffen aus Assyrien und Urartu, Sammlung Axel Guttmann IV, Mainz, 1995, pp.90, 94, 107ff., pp.174-175, pls.I, IX, X-XI (AG 168, 385); Dezső, T., Oriental Influence in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Helmet traditions in the 9th-7th Centuries B.C.: the Patterns of Orientalisation (British Archaeological Reports, S691), Oxford, 1998; Christie’s,The art of the warfare, the Axel Guttmann collection, Part II, Wednesday 28 April 2004, London, 2004, pp.38-39 no.39; Gorelik, M.,Weapons of Ancient East, IV millennium BC-IV century BC, Saint Petersburg (2003) in Russian, pl.LXI nn.88-89-90; Castelluccia, M., ‘Urartian Metalwork in Caucasian Graves’ in Makalatia, S., Studies in Caucasian Archaeology, Tblisi, 2014, fig.3; see Christie's, 5 June 2014, lot 54; see also Christie's, 14 April 2011, lot 330.

The motif of the three animals' heads is visible in helmets from royal graves (bronze helmet from the ‘Royal Burial’ of Lori-Berd, Armenia). Also the helmet with the Sarduri inscription shows a broad frieze of chariots and ritual scenes protected by lion heads. Dezső proposed various possibilities for the significance of the curved crooks or snakes on front of these helmets, the main ones being of apotropaic significance or simply being used to frame the scene below.