History of Iran in Every Corner of the World (1)
The glory of Iranian civilization, especially in ancient times, is common knowledge. This ancient civilization, which mixed with ancient culture for a long time, has developed and created artwork, each of which tells a long history. These artworks are not only a reflection of this land’s history and culture but also represent Iranians’ art. The art reflects the thought and efforts that have been symbolized and manifested with Iranian men’s and women’s creative fingers.
Some of these invaluable historical and artistic artifacts are exhibited in the museum of ancient Iran and many more of these artifacts have lived in exile.
In these series of reports we will try to introduce these invaluable artworks and their storage in museums in Iran and around the world.
A golden 4-horse chariot: This belongs to the achaemenid period, found in the Oxus treasure (Amu Darya), and from 300 to 500 BC. This artwork is a 4-wheel chariot on which two passengers with Achaemenid clothing are riding. This artwork is now in the British Museum.
Cyrus Cylinder: It is a clay tablet made of baked clay, written in538 BC by Cyrus the Great. Excerpts from another copy of cylinder’s text on two inscribed pieces have recently been identified in the British Museum’s Babylon collection and a part of an archived version of the same cylinder. First half of the tablet is written by Babylonian chronicles. The second half are the words and commands of Cyrus, in the Akkadian language and Akkadian cuneiform. This cylinder was excavated in 1258 (official Iranian calendar)/ 1879AD, in the temple of Esagila in ancient Babylon city and is kept in the British Museum in London. The name of the secretary and writer who copied the text of Cyrus’s cylinder was Qishti-Marduk, but the secretary who wrote the original text is not known. For the first time, this cylinder was translated from Akkadian to Persian by Dr. Abdolmajid Arfaei in Iran.
Luristan Bronze Harness Piece: It is one of the ancient objects in the form of a wondrous horned creature or jinni with a cow or a horse’s body.This also belongs to the second half of the second millennium BC in Luristan. Luristan bronze harness piece was originally two pieces connected with a cross-shaped piece from the hole between the pieces. This ancient piece depicts the portrait of an imaginary creature with a fully rotating head. At the end of the wing of this amazing creatures another creature that has an aggressive look. The horned beast manifests its power by trampling another beast on the ground. There are two rings on the wing of the mythical creature through which a rope passes. This piece’s height is 18.7 cm, and its width is 18.2 cm, and it is kept in the Louvre Museum.
Gold Lion Bracelet: It is one of the surviving ancient artwork from the Achaemenid period. This bracelet is adorned with two Griffins, mythical creatures, standing symmetrically facing each other. This golden lion bracelet had valuable stones and jewels placed in it, which have all been removed.
A plate depicting ram hunting: It is one of the Sassanid antiquities and is kept in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This silver hunting ground plate is gilded with mercury, silver, and gold and decorated with black ink. It has a height of 4.6 and a diameter of 21.9 cm. In the picture, the Sassanid king is hunting rams. The plate’s design for the courtiers was a sign of bravery and invincibility of the Sassanid kings. Such works have been used to offer to the kings of neighboring countries. The king has a crown and a headband on the plate, as well as a ball with special support, the halo around his head is decorated with beads or sequins. It is assumed that the king in this plate is Pirooz or Qobad I.
Musicians’ Plate: It is one of the antiquities of the Sassanid period that is kept in the British Museum. This plate was found in Tabaristan.
The Golden Plaque of a Median Man with a Dagger: It is one of the 170 treasures of the Amu Darya and belongs to the Achaemenid period. The embossed plaque and other Amu Darya treasure pieces, made of gold and silver, were discovered at a shrine in the Takht-e Kavad region of Tajikistan. The most valuable surviving treasure from the Achaemenid dynasty is kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum. The golden plaque of a Median man with a dagger, one of the 50 thin plaques of the Amu Darya treasure, like other similar plaques, shows a man whose clothing is in the Medes style. The man is hanging an acinaces on his clothing in the style of the carved statues of Takhte Jamshid. He is holding a bouquet of barsam in front of his chest and carrying it with his right hand. It is thought that this man is a performer of a religious tradition because he is holding a bouquet of barsam in his hands. The purpose of making the plaque and the purpose of its existence in the shrine is not clear, but it seems that these plaques have been offered to this shrine or pilgrimage as an endowment.
Susa Cup with the Goat Design:
It is a large and patterned bowl that is elegantly decorated. This measuring bowl was found among objects related to burial ceremonies in the Susa civilization. The wall of this bowl is thin, and birds like storks are painted at the top near the edge, around it. It is believed that this cup was used for the first agricultural trade in Eastern civilizations. Under the birds is the design of tall dogs of special breed. Curving stripes are also painted on this bowl.
The Board Game of 58 Holes: It is one of the Iron Age antiquities discovered in Tepe Sialk of Kashan, by Roman Ghirshman, in 1937. This ancient board is 24 by 11 cm in size and made of clay. It is known as the 58-houses or 58-holes board game. The board was found in a historic cemetery. Board games have been widespread, especially in ancient Egypt and the Near East. These types of boards come in a variety of shapes, including holes and playhouses. This example of a 58-houses board game discovered in Iran, Tepe Sialk, Tomb 217, Cemetery B, has been found in other parts of Iran. This game has been found without the relevant and particular pieces, and also, in the calculation of the game houses, the house (hole) on the right side of the board and the house (hole) on the left side of the board have not been considered.
Achaemenid Persian Roaring Lion Rhyton: It is one of the antiquities of the Achaemenid period that were found in various excavations in Ecbatana. It has a conical dish and a lion that is roaring. A horn-shaped vessels with animal heads has a long history in the Middle East, Greece, and Italy. Like several other rhyton of the Achaemenid period, this rhyton has the characteristic of being straight to the animal’s axis with the vessel. In this rhyton, the pieces are soldered together and hidden from the viewer; this skill reflects the excellent and technical style of Achaemenid artists. The roaring lion is one of the symbols of mastered art in decorations, in the Acheamenid period.
The Golden Mountain Goat Rhyton of Ecbatana: It is one of the ancient artworks of the Achaemenid period that has been collected in Ecbatana. This rhython is made in the shape of a mountain goat’s head. The golden rhython of the Ecbatana goat is in the Museum of Ancient Iran. In ancient times, Takuk or rhyton were vessels made in the form of animals.
The Azure Cuckoo Bird Statue: It is one of the ancient artworks of the Elam period. This ancient artwork is made of azure stone in the shape of a cuckoo bird. This antique bird belongs to 1300 BC, the Middle Elamite period. This artwork is nailed with golden pins. This bird is 11 cm long and is stored in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The Statue of Napirasu: It is one of the pieces of Elam civilization. Queen Napirisha is the wife of Untash Napirisha, King of Elam. The artwork dates back to 1250 BC. This statue, made of a layer of copper and gold on a bronze mold, is about 130 cm high, 70 cm wide, and weighs 1750 kg. According to Dr. Pierre Amiet, a specialist in Elamite civilization at the Louvre Museum, this statue is a piece of art and the culmination of the art of bronze casting, which shows the presence of highly-skilled and master artisans in the Elam civilization. This statue is the largest metalwork from the ancient east that has not been seen Egypt, nor Babylon nor even in Anatolia. This statue is a valuable work of art made to honor and praise the Elamite queen and shows women’s social position and prestige in the ancient Elamite civilization.
The Silver Statue of Sitting Cow: It is one of the ancient objects that belongs to the pre-Elamite period or the beginning of Elamite (a period from the history of Elam between 3200 to 2700 BC). The statue is from 2900 to 3100 BC. The head and hands of this creature are of a cow, and its body is human. This statue has been found in south-eastern Iran and is 16.3 cm in height. The silver figure has a unique cover that has a stepped pattern and is decorated with stripes. The cow is taking a cup with a tube span. The silver statue of a sitting cow is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
This Elamite cow’s statue, painted with a striped pattern, with a cup and a span in its hand shows a beautiful blending of human and animal features. Of course, exhibiting such a combination was common in the pre-Elamite period and is believed to have been a symbol of supernatural power given by the gods to the kings. Although this statue’s use is not well understood, the type of cup and designs carved on the clothes indicate some kind of religious ceremony or religious celebration. The quality of silver used in this famous statue, which was made in the copper age, not only tells us about the excellent craftsmanship of its creators, but also shows that the Elamite civilization was pioneer in the technology of extraction and melting the precious.
Ewer with a Feline-Shaped Handle: It is a bronze pitcher and is one of the historical artworks that dates back to the end of the Sassanid period and beginning of the Rashidin dynasty (seventh century AD). The design of this dish is an abstract plant pattern. The pitcher’s handle is a wild cat that puts its hands on the edge of the pitcher and its legs on the pitcher’s body. There is a plant leaf design on the body of the vessel and its base. Copper metal plays a significant role in the art of the pitcher. The design and style of work prove Sassanid and Parthian art’s influence on Islamic art in the early periods of Islam in Iran. The handle’s narrow shape is evocative of the style of Sassanid and Parthian metalwork so that abstract plant motifs and ducks on the edge of the span of the cup and overlapping petals of the narrow base are designs and features of the Sassanid and Parthian periods, respectively.
Griffin and winged cow cu: It is one of the ancient objects that has been found in Marlik hill in Rudbar of Gilan province. In the upper part of this golden cup, there is the design of the mythical Griffin. The mythical lion is half the body of the lion, and the other half is the eagle. This cup dates back to 800 to 900 BC. The cup was stolen from a cave in northwestern Iran, confiscated from an antiquities smuggler in 2003, and held in the United States. Lions are known to have healing powers as well as guarding treasures. The design of this mythical creature has been used in many ancient statues and structures in Iran.
The Elamite Woman Silver Cup or Goddess of Elam: it is one of the ancient artworks of the Elamite period; a carving of Elamite woman on lithograph, with unknown objects in her hands and wearing a beautiful dress. The Elamite woman silver cup was found in one and a half kilometers northwest of Persepolis plateau in Marvdasht city of Fars province while digging a qanat (aqueduct). Its antiquity dates back to 2000 BC in the last centuries of the third millennium. This cup is known as the “Silver Cup of Marvdasht.” Today this beautiful handicraft is kept in the Museum of Ancient Iran in Tehran.
The Two-headed Monster and Gazelle: It is one of the remnants of Marlik culture and civilization. The main usage of this cup is unclear, but it is thought to have been wineglass or a similar vessel. The material of this cup is electrom. The engraving and embossing done on this work shows a monster or a dragon with an open jaw, holding a gazelle in each of its claws.