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LOT 0452

GBP (£) 3,000 - 4,000
EUR (€) 3,430 - 4,570
USD ($) 3,820 - 5,100

Opening Bid
£2,700 (EUR 3,086; USD 3,442) (+bp*) Add to Watch list

Western Asiatic Urartian War Belt with Fantastic Beasts

Late 8th century BC

A broad hammered bronze belt or cuirass band decorated in chased low relief; the decoration in three horizontal registers, divided by a double line, embossed, the three rectangular bands with stamped figures of leaping lions, gryphons and ibexes with interstitial clusters of bossed pellets and rosettes; to one end a larger panel with pellet border, a standing profile gryphon and a faravahar winged disc; raised bands framing the panels and the whole belt; fastening holes for the leather lining to the edges are visible; mounted on a custom-made display frame. 2 kg, 124cm including frame (49"). Very fine condition, secured in sections. A very beautiful, complete specimen with magnificent decoration.

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 604/131386.

Cf. Есаян, C. A., Погребения VI-V вв. до н. э. в горах Шамшадина, - СА, 1965; Born H., Seidl U., Schutzwaffen aus Assyrien und Urartu, Sammlung Axel Guttmann IV, Mainz, 1995; Gorelik, M., Weapons of Ancient East, IV millennium BC-IV century BC, Saint Petersburg, 2003 in Russian.

The belt-cuirass preserves a decoration substantially identical to one of the belts of the big collection of Caucasian and Urartian items preserved in the Rezan Has Muzesi of Istanbul, representing the same decorative pattern. The Istanbul belt still keeps the fastening ring on one edge, lost in our specimen. Particularly interesting is the presence, in the Istanbul belt, of the same bosses and rosettes dividing the images of lions, ibexes and gryphons. This allows a more certain date for the belt, probably made by the same Urartian workshop. According to Gorelik, by comparison with some armour-belts preserved in the Tokyo museum of Ancient East (2003, pl.LIX, n.3,4,6) showing the same pattern, the date of such belts can arrive until the 7th century BC. Protective belts in the Caucasus were very popular, especially among Urartians. The early samples of such belt armours appeared in Middle East, at the beginning of the first millennium BC, introducing an original fixing system on the waist, instead of the simple ties: a hook was first sewn separately to one end of then belt, and later became part of a massive bronze buckle furnished of a ring, rectangular in shape. Such plaques were attached not only to bronze belts, strengthening them in front, but also to the leather ones, judging by the numerous finds in the graves, where some buckles were found. Later the belt became part of a full panoply, protecting the waist, while scale, lamellar or leather armour protected the main body.

The piece of armour with hits magnificent decoration is an outstanding evidence of Urartian drift and honing technique of the highest quality. Caucasian bronze belts are usually richly ornamented, often by punching or embossing, and the degree of decoration increases with the width of the belt. This directly indicates that the increased decorativeness and ideological saturation of the different subjects are directly related to improving the quality of the warriors profane functions, and all together increases its reliability, its protective functions. Therefore, it is impossible to agree with the statement of S. A. Yesayan that the bronze belts were especially destined to a ritual function, and not used in war activities. 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. It served as armor of the warrior and was used for the insertion of daggers, knives and grindstone. The ends of the belt were provided with one or two ring holes for the fastening around the waist.

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Lot No. 0452

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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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