Home > Auctions > 28th May 2019 > Western Asiatic Urartian or Caucasian Cuirass-Belt Armour

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LOT 0453

GBP (£) 1,500 - 2,000
EUR (€) 1,700 - 2,270
USD ($) 1,900 - 2,540

Opening Bid
£900 (EUR 1,021; USD 1,143) (+bp*) Add to Watch list

Western Asiatic Urartian or Caucasian Cuirass-Belt Armour

8th century BC

A broad hammered bronze belt with three horizontal sequences, the panel decorated in chased low relief with three rectangular bands showing lozenges inside, with dots embossed inside each lozenge; beside this are five decorative registers with horses to the left, and horsemen alternated with horses on the right, followed by geometric motives and a further line of horses; the edges are decorated on the borders by three bands of pearled dots; the triple ribbed dotted border is preceded, on both sides, by triangles and dots horizontally arranged; on the edges are visible the holes for the fastening to the leather lining; on the right side fragments of the attachment of a riveted loop; mounted on a custom-made display frame. 3.6 kg, 92 x 46cm (36 1/4 x 18"). Fine condition, repaired.

Property of a London gentleman; acquired from his father's collection formed in the late 1980s-early 1990s; accompanied by an academic report by military specialist Dr Raffaele D'Amato, and by a metallurgic analytical report, written by Metallurgist Dr. Brian Gilmour of the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, report number 603/131390.

This belt-cuirass is similar to a specimen preserved in the Rezan Has Muzesi of Istanbul. The decoration of stylized warriors is similar to a Caucasian belt from Stepanavan, published by Gorelik (2003,pl.LVIII n. 59); also see Born H., Seidl U., Schutzwaffen aus Assyrien und Urartu, Sammlung Axel Guttmann IV, Mainz, 1995; and Gorelik, M., Weapons of Ancient East, IV millennium BC-IV century BC, Saint Petersburg (2003) in Russian.

This Urartian or Caucasian cuirass-belt is unusual with the embossed rosette decoration. This piece of armour, with its geometric decoration in the form of four three-point bands bordered by triangles, is an outstanding evidence of Urartian drift and honing metalworking technique, and is of the highest quality. This magnificent belt originally encircled the waist of a warrior or a nobleman. Covered with an abstract geometry, it was emblem of rank, power and worldly stature. The borders were originally reinforced with a further bronze lining. It served as armour of the warrior and was used for the insertion of daggers, knives and grindstone. The ends of the belt were rounded and were provided with one or two ring holes for the fastening around the waist.

The kingdom of Urartu, originally a confederation of numerous tribes from Eastern Anatolia, was one of the most powerful states in the Ancient Near East during the first half of the first millennium BC, constituting one of the most fierce rivals of the Assyrian Empire. During the 8th century the Urartians clashed with Assyrians and eventually Iranians trying to expand from nowadays Northern Turkey and Armenia, into Azerbaijan, Kurdistan and the Euphrates region, in search of silver, copper and iron ores for their very prolific metal-smithing industry. Their material culture was particularly warlike, and the belts like the specimen illustrated here, were highly ornamentally decorated, and were used in war as body protection and in peace as a symbol of a warrior's rank. The Urartian army consisted of infantry, outstanding cavalry, and powerful chariot units. In combat, warriors wore armour made up of tied bronze plates or iron scales, sewn onto a soft base worn in combination with broad bronze girdles. Tall pointed iron helmets, breastplates, or pectorals, and accompanied with bronze shields or leather targets with bronze bosses, completed their defensive equipment.

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Auction Catalogue

Auction Venue:
The May Fair Hotel London
Stratton Street
Mayfair London, W1J 8LT

Viewing from noon Monday 27th May 2019
Champagne Reception: 6pm - 9pm

Tuesday 28th May 2019 (Day 1)
10am : Lots 1 - 660

Auction Venue:
The Court House
363 Main Road
Harwich, CO12 4DN

10am GMT Start (Lunch 1.30 - 2pm)
Wednesday 29th May 2019 (Day 2)
Lots 700 - 1400
Thursday 30th May 2019 (Day 3)
Lots 1401 - 2112
Friday 31st May 2019 (Day 4)
Lots 2113 - 2817
Saturday 1st June 2019 (Day 5)
Lots 2818 - 3306
Coins: 3401 - 3579
Sunday 2nd June 2019 (Day 6)
Coins, Notes & Medals
Lots 3600 - 4387

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