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Pair of Anatolian Bronze Hittite Figures

Ancient Near East, Syro-Hittite, ca. 2nd millennium BCE. A pair of rare bronze religious idol figures. One is a single figure with the classic Mesopotamian beak-like nose and highly abstract face, its arms outstretched, its body a long, undecorated post. The other represents four similar figures pressed together so that their lower bodies merge into a single thick bronze stalk. Size of largest (four-headed figure): 1.7" W x 2.5" H (4.3 cm x 6.4 cm); 3.2" H (8.1 cm) on included custom stand.

Bronze votive idols like these are known in a variety of fascinating forms throughout the pre-literate ancient world. From the truly abstract Kilia-type figures that are barely recognizable as human to the exaggerated feminine shapes of so-called "Venus" figures, people in the past, as today, had a clear desire to portray human forms and did not feel constrained by naturalism. There are some repeated motifs: outstretched arms, as on these figures, which researchers have interpreted to mean an act of supplication; similarly, the wide eyes on these figures are an often-repeated characteristic that researchers believe emphasizes that the figures depicted are attentive to the gods. Miniature figures like these seem to be portraying worshippers rather than gods, and we believe that they were small enough that, even though they were made of bronze, ordinary people could have owned them and kept them on home altars. Many people from the ancient Near East are found buried with items like this one.

Condition: Both have dark green patina with clear forms and many details remaining.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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