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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Hittite Art : Syrio-Hittite Sculpture of a Deity
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Syrio-Hittite Sculpture of a Deity - PF.5816
Origin: Syria
Circa: 1600 BC to 1200 BC
Dimensions: 2.5" (6.4cm) high x 1.125" (2.9cm) wide
Collection: Biblical
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
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The Hittite Empire first emerged in central Anatolia in the 2nd millennium B.C. By 1340, they had become one of the dominant powers in Mesopotamia. Under King Suppiluliumas I (c. 1380-c. 1346 BC), the empire reached its height. Except for a successful campaign in southwestern Anatolia, Suppiluliumas' military career was devoted to the establishment of a firm Hittite foothold in Syria. The struggle against the Egyptians for domination over Syria continued during the reign of Muwatallis (c. 1320-c. 1294 BC) culminating in one of the greatest battles of the ancient world, which took place at Kadesh on in 1299 BC. Although Ramses II claimed a great victory, the result was probably more even, leading towards an ultimate peace treaty, a mutual defense pact, and interdynastic marriages to seal the bond. Although much of Hittite civilization remains mysterious and lost to time, perhaps a picture of their greatness can be discerned if one considers that even Ramses the Great found it more beneficial to be their ally rather than their foe.

The diminutive size of this sculpture conceals its tremendous power. Forged in an era where bronze was more precious than gold, the value of this piece in antiquity is evident. Most likely, this sculpture was a personal idol that would have been worshiped in the house, attached to a wooden base that has deteriorated over the ages. Perhaps this idol represented the great ancient Middle Eastern deity Baal, the god of rain and fertility. Perhaps this is a representation of a past king who became a divinity in his death. While the function of this work is as mysterious as many aspects of the Hittites themselves, we can begin to determine the scope of their greatness through this idol. When held in our hands, we are transported to another time and place, overwhelmed by the ancient spiritual energy that radiates from within this work.
- (PF.5816)


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