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Lot 53c, Auction 11/9/2017: Persian Achaemenid Bronze Chain w/ Rabbit Buckle

Ancient Near East, Achaemenid Persian Empire, ca. 550 to 330 BCE. An incredible woven bronze chain in the spiga (wheat) chain style, with a rectangular belt buckle depicting a rabbit in high relief. The chain is in incredible condition for its age, still extremely pliable and with no repairs. Thick bronze loops connect each side of the chain to the buckle. The rabbit is seen from above, lying down, ears back flat and eyes wide. The item was likely made to be worn either as a belt or over the shoulders. Size: 39" L x 0.4" W (99.1 cm x 1 cm)

Even before the Achaemenid Empire, hunting was no longer a subsistence strategy for all but the poorest people; the ancient Near East was an established agricultural society. However, people at all levels of society - and especially elites - seem to have delighted in hunting for sport, as well as used hunting as a form of religious ritual. The rabbit on this buckle is similar in pose to one depicted on the Assyrian (ca. 700 BCE from the same area) relief in the Khorsabad Royal Palace (now located in the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad), obviously the captured product of a hunt. Hunted animals were prepared and eaten in feasts. Artwork depicts kings standing before altars, pouring libations over the bodies of dead game animals. This chain and buckle connects explicitly to the imagery of the hunt and probably belonged to someone of high status.

Condition: Tiny break to one side of buckle, but it is still functional. Small losses to bronze surface in very few places along the chain, but all are functional and none seem loose or close to unravelling.

Provenance: private New Jersey USA collection, acquired over twenty years ago

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