Wall decoration with pomegranates in palmettes


Not on view

Stucco reliefs were commonly used to decorate the iwans and reception halls of elite Sasanian houses. Many examples were found in excavated houses in the Ctesiphon area including this fragment from Tell Dheheb consisting of a repeating pomegranate in palmette design. The use of molds to make stuccos allowed for the creation of large scale repetitive patterns such as geometric and vegetal motifs.

The city of Ctesiphon was located on the east bank of the Tigris River, 20 miles (32 km) south of modern Baghdad in Iraq. It flourished for more than 800 years as the capital of the Parthians and the Sasanians, the last two dynasties to rule the ancient Near East before the Islamic conquest in the seventh century. Systematic excavations in the Ctesiphon area were undertaken by an expedition in 1928–29 sponsored by the German Oriental Society (Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft). The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Staatliche Museen, Berlin, undertook a joint expedition for one season in 1931–32. Several excavations were conducted, including at the main palace (Taq-i Kisra), in a small fortified area south of the palace at Tell Dheheb, at multiple houses at the mounds of Ma’aridh, and at additional houses at a small mound called Umm ez-Za’tir.

Tell Dheheb (Hill of Gold), located south of the Taq-I Kisra, is a small, square mound about 165 meters on each side. The excavations revealed a roughly symmetrical square enclosure wall with various internal and external buttresses. Within the walls, however, the buildings and streets did not follow any symmetrical or orthogonal planning. Rooms and buildings of various shapes and sizes were uncovered along one excavated street. Toward the center of the mound a free-standing building of rectilinear rooms was excavated. In some places the walls were preserved to a height of 16.5 meters with stuccos still on the walls. Small windows, probably for ventilation, were found toward the tops of the walls.

Wall decoration with pomegranates in palmettes, Stucco, Sasanian

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.