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Rectangular Bottle on a Two-Headed Horse

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Ancient Iranian Ceramics

These ceramics demonstrate ancient Iranian artists’ interest in creating containers and other ritual instruments in the shape of mammals or birds. This tradition was of incredible duration, stretching back to about 3000 B.C.E. of the Neolithic period and lasting as late as the sixth century C.E. These shapes relate Iranian art to the customs of neighboring regions of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Central Asia where animal art also played an integral role.
MEDIUM Clay
  • Place Made: Northern Iran, Iran
  • DATES ca. 800-600 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Urartian Period
    DIMENSIONS height: 7 1/2 in. (19 cm) length: 5 1/8 in. (13 cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2015.65.30
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, NYC, in memory of James F. Romano
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The body of the bottle is square in section, rising to a tubular neck with a broad square rim. The circular mouth of the bottle is very small in comparison to the rim. The sides of the bottle are decorated with a sharply incised pattern of upward pointing chevrons linked by a central line. The bottle sits on the flat bench-like back of the horse whose slab-like forequarters are ornamented with another set of chevrons. The forequarters support two long, square-sectioned necks with small rounded heads whose only distinguishing elements are vaguely indicated ears. A curving handle arches from the back of the bottle to the back of the horse(s). The flat forms of the body, neck and legs suggest that the figure was built of clay slabs rather than modeled with rolls or coils. In contrast to the angular forms of the rest of the vessel, the tapered round tail curves up to touch the back.
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