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Lot 47d, Auction 8/3/2017: Rare / Ancient South Arabian Bronze Camel

Ancient South Arabia, Yemen, ca. early first millennium BCE. A cast bronze statuette of a camel with an erect head and neck, a slight hump, and lightly scored lines overall that create the impression of thick fur. The body is nicely detailed, with musculature and feet depicted in a realistic fashion. The head is more stylized, with a loop below the neck that might indicate a harness or lead. Comes with custom stand. Size: 3.35" W x 3.4" H (8.5 cm x 8.6 cm); height on stand: 3.6" H (9.1 cm).

This camel is posed as if walking, a dynamic form for an animal whose ability to walk was prized above all else by the South Arabians. The camel was domesticated in South Arabia some time during the Bronze Age (ca. 3000 BCE), and rapidly became central to its economy. Camels allowed them to traverse the vast desert of the Rub' al-Khali, "the Empty Quarter", and were the main method of transport for long-distance trade north to the huge urban centers of the ancient Near East. In turn, South Arabia became famous as a source of perfumes and incense necessary to religious ceremonies in Mesopotamia and beyond.

Bronze camel statuettes like this one seem to have been votive offerings, often presented as this one is without inscription. For example, many were found as funerary offerings in the necropolis of 'wm. See a similar example, but with a saddle, at the British Museum (1992,0623.3).

Condition: Intact. Slight bending to back legs. Dark patina overall. Details very clear.

Provenance: Ex-Private East Coast, USA Collection

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