Furniture plaque carved in relief with warrior, Ivory, Iran

Furniture plaque carved in relief with warrior

Iron Age II
ca. 9th century B.C.
Iran, Hasanlu
1.3 x 2.52 x 0.31 in. (3.3 x 6.4 x 0.79 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1965
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 400
Excavations at Hasanlu in Iran yielded a large number of carved ivory fragments, many in a distinctive style found only at this site, which probably decorated wooden furniture or were used as small precious objects such as boxes. The citadel at Hasanlu was attacked and destroyed around 800 B.C., most likely by military forces of the powerful state of Urartu, centered in present-day Armenia, eastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran. In the fire that destroyed the citadel, many objects were crushed and shattered. The blackened appearance of most of the Hasanlu ivories is due to their exposure to high temperatures at the time of the citadel’s destruction.

This fragment depicts a battle scene, with the upper body of a warrior at left holding a shield in his left hand and a spear aimed downward in his right. From the broken right edge of the fragment, two spears are pointed at the warrior’s head. His hair and beard are marked with a pattern of incised parallel lines, and his features are indistinct except for a large eye, shown in front view. His helmet has an earflap, marked with incised spots, and above is a flat projection decorated with triangular shapes, perhaps indicating a row of feathers. He wears a garment with scalloped borders visible at the edge of the sleeves and at the waist. The top and left edge of the plaque are unbroken, and a dowel hole pierces the guilloche border along the top edge. The plaque was probably attached to a wooden frame by means of dowels, to form a piece of furniture. A fragment showing a spear tip and the feet of two warriors, also in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection (65.123.18), may be part of the same plaque, or a similar plaque with the same type of decoration.
1964, excavated by Robert H. Dyson Jr. on behalf of the Hasanlu Project sponsored by the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, the Archaeological Service of Iran, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art; acquired by the Museum in 1965, as a result of its financial contribution to the excavations.

“Archaeology: Exploring the Past,” The Junior Museum of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 22, 1962–June 30, 1966.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department,” MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, The Aiche Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1983.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 1966. "Hasanlu 1964." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25, p. 128, fig. 14.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 1980. The Catalogue of Ivories from Hasanlu, Iran. Hasanlu Special Studies II. University Museum Monograph 40. Philadelphia: The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, no. 55A, pp. 28-29.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 1983. “Hasanlu.” In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 59.

Gunter, Ann C. 2009. Greek Art and the Orient. New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 46, fig. 13.

de Schauensee, Maude. 2011. Peoples and Crafts in Period IVB at Hasanlu, Iran. Hasanlu Special Studies IV, edited by Robert H. Dyson. University Museum Monograph 132. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Appendix 1.1, HAS 64-791.