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Lot 52b, Auction 8/3/2017: Luristan Bronze Axe Head - Curved Blade and Spiked Butt

$684.75
Ancient Near East, Luristan, ca. 1000 BCE. A lost wax cast bronze axe head with a cylindrical socket. Projecting from the back of the socket is a spiked butt with four short spikes. The blade has a wide border on top and bottom and curves sharply downward. This particular example does not seem to have been sharpened, suggesting that it was made only for ritual or funerary purposes. Comes with custom stand. Size: 8.75" L x 1.3" W x 3.25" H (22.2 cm x 3.3 cm x 8.3 cm); height on stand: 5.5" (14 cm).

Spike-butted axes have been excavated from graves at Bard-I Bal, Kutal-I Gulgul, and Khatunban, all in the Luristan region, but two found with inscriptions from, respectively, an Elamite king and a Babylonian king, have led researchers to believe that the type may have originated in Mesopotamia and been brought to Luristan. The function of these axes is unclear - large examples like this one and one held by the British Museum (Accession Number 130676) have thick, blunt blades that are often at too sharp an angle from the socket to have ever been used as cutting tools. However, if they were hafted onto curved shafts, they could have been swung back and forth, using the spikes like a mace, and the blunted blade to pierce armor. They may also have been heirlooms, royal regalia, or manufactured solely to be grave goods.

See a very similar example with zoomorphic motifs at the British Museum (1945,1015.3).

Condition: Smooth patina over surface. Slight bending to spikes.

Provenance: private Dr. George Wald collection, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, acquired in the 1960s. Dr. Wald was recipient of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the retina.

All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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