The border between the western empire of Rome and the Parthian lands in the east ran between the central and northern Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Hatra in northern Iraq, southwest of modern Mosul, was a major trading city heavily fortified against Roman attack.
Once part of a decorated doorway in the Great Iwans, the main temple building at the heart of the Great Temple enclosure at Hatra, this lintel stone was originally positioned so that the carved surface faced the floor. The two fantastic creatures have feline bodies, long ears, wings, and crest feathers—a combination of animal and bird elements typical of Near Eastern lion-griffins. Between the two figures is a vase containing a stylized lotus leaf and two tendrils. The naturalistic modeling of the creatures' bodies and the form of the central vase reflect Roman influence. However, the absolute symmetry of the composition, the pronounced simplification of the plant forms, and the lion-griffin motif are all characteristic of the Near East.
#7028. Door lintel with lion-griffins and vase with lotus
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Title:Door lintel with lion-griffins and vase with lotus leaf
Date:ca. 2nd–early 3rd century CE
Geography:From Mesopotamia, Hatra
Dimensions:28 1/8 × 66 1/2 × 4 in. (71.4 × 168.9 cm × 10.2 cm)
Credit Line:Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1932
Accession Number:32.145a, b
After 1911, art market, Baghdad (Dimand 1933, p. 79) and London; acquired by the Museum in 1932, purchased from Sydney Burney, London.
“The World between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 18, 2019–June 23, 2019.
"Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World." The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, April 6, 2022–August 8, 2022.
Andrae, Walter. 1912. Hatra nach Aufnahmen von Mitgliedern der Assur Expedition der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft. Vol. II. Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, p. 149, fig. 251, pl. XII.
Dimand, Maurice S. 1933. "Parthian and Sasanian Art." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 28 (4), p. 79, fig. 1.
Dimand, Maurice S. 1944. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art, New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 13.
Homès-Fredericq, Denyse. 1963. Hatra et ses sculptures parthes: étude stylistique et iconographique. Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologische Instituut in het Nabije Oosten, p. 58, no. 46.
Crawford, V. et al. 1966. Guide to the Ancient Near East Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 34, fig. 53.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1972. Guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 53, fig. 22.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 56, fig. 28.
Harper, Prudence O. 2006. In Search of a Cultural Identity: Monuments and Artifacts of the Sasanian Near East, 3rd to 7th Century A.D. Biennial Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series No. 2. New York: Bibliotheca Persica, pp. 23, 49, fig. 21.
Metzger, Francesca Dorna and Monica Girardi. 2013. "Griffins in the Architectural Decoration at Hatra," in: A. Peruzzetto, F.D. Metzger, and L. Dirven (eds.). Animals, Gods and Men from East to West: Papers on archaeology and history in honour of Roberta Venco Ricciardi (BAR International Series 2516), pp. 169-179, fig. 1.
Venco Ricciardi, Roberta and Alessandra Peruzzetto. 2014. "Hatra, ville arabe entre monde hellénistico-romain et monde parthe." In Art et civilisations de l'Orient hellénisé: rencontres et échanges culturels d'Alexandre aux Sassanides, edited by Pierre Leriche. Paris: Picard, p. 221, fig. 11.
Ravilious Ella. 2015. "Gertrude Bell and Hatra, Iraq." www.vam.ac.uk/blog/factory-presents/gertrude-bell-and-hatra-iraq (blog published on June 25, 2015).
Newcastle University. 2015. "Gertrude Bell Archive." www.gerty.ncl.ac.uk/photo_details.php?photo_id=5550 (last updated 21 May 2015).
Newcastle University. 2015. "Gertrude Bell Archive." www.gerty.ncl.ac.uk/photo_details.php?photo_id=5551 (last updated 21 May 2015).
Venco Ricciardi, Roberta. 2015. "Decorazione architettonica figurate del grande temenos di Hatra." Mesopotamia 50, p. 215, figs. 46, 47a-b.
Fowlkes-Childs, Blair and Michael Seymour. 2019. The World between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East, exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 153, p. 218.
Ellerbrock, Uwe. 2021. The Parthians: The Forgotten Empire. London: Routledge, p, 152, fig. 7.22.
Spier, Jeffery, Timothy F. Potts, and Sara E. Cole, eds. 2022. Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, p.227, no. 117.
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