Ancient Near East, northwestern Iran, Amlash, ca. 1200 to 800 BCE. A striking copper dagger presenting a double-edged, petaloid blade with a vertical mid-rib, a wide guard, a flat hilt that rises near the back, and a flared back quillon. The back quillon parts into 2 zoomorphic heads, each resembling that of a lamb, ram, or horse. Each head exhibits a thick neck and a flat-topped head with a protruding, rounded snout, and back-pointing ears or horns. An elongated pentagon is incised on each face of the hilt, while a textured pattern embellishes each animal head, possibly representing fur. This weapon and others like it were made in multiple pieces using the lost wax casting technique with the hilt then cast-on to the blade. Size: 3.9" W x 11.4" H (9.9 cm x 29 cm); 12.3" H (31.2 cm) on included custom stand.
Amlash weapons were buried with the dead in large megalithic tombs, built by part of the Marlik culture. Despite its proximity to large Mesopotamian cultures, the geographical barrier of the high Zagros and Elburz Mountains kept this culture relatively isolated, and it developed a very unique tradition. This is an elegant example of a grave good that, based on how few graves have been found in the Amlash assemblage and the impressive size of their tombs, seems to have been reserved only for high status individuals.
Provenance: East Coast collection, New York Gallery, New York City, New York, USA, acquired before 2010
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Expected softening of detail and sharpness of edges, as well as nicks and abrasions, commensurate with age. Otherwise, intact and excellent with rich patina.