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Syro-Hittite Black Steatite Figure of Twin Lions, Column Base

Syro-Hittite Black Steatite Figure of Twin Lions, Column Base

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Near Eastern: Stone: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1390172

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Syro-Hittite Black Steatite Figure of Twin Lions, column base, (1180 - 700 BCE) Intact and in excellent condition. 1 7/8" x 3 3/4" x 2 1/2". Ex: S. Beiner collection, Florida. Collection number on bottom. Authentic example of Tell Tayinat Twin Lions discovered in 1930. According to The History Blog, “The presence of lions, or sphinxes and colossal statues astride the Master and Animals motif in the citadel gateways of the Neo-Hittite royal cities of Iron Age Syro-Anatolia continued a Bronze Age Hittite tradition that accentuated their symbolic role as boundary zones and the role of the king as the divinely appointed guardian, or gatekeeper, of the community,” noted Harrison. The elaborately decorated gateways served as dynastic parades, legitimizing the power of the ruling elite. The lion at the gate guarded the neo-Hittite citadel of Kunulua (aka Kinalua), the capital of the Kingdom of Patina/Unqi (ca. 950-725 B.C.), one of several Neo-Hittite city-kingdoms that proliferated in the area during the Bronze and Iron Age. The lion failed in his duties when Assyrian forces under King Tiglath-Pileser III conquered the citadel in 738 BCE. They destroyed the citadel, leveled the gate complex and used it as the central courtyard of a newly built temple. Kunulua became an Assyrian provincial capital ruled by a governor with an imperial bureaucracy. It was in that Assyrian temple complex in the mid-1930s that University of Chicago archaeologist Robert Braidwood discovered a column base decorated with lions that are very similar to the newly-discovered statue. Scholars thought that lion style was Assyrian in origin, duplicated by other peoples under the influence of Assyrian cultural primacy. The fact that this lion was found underneath the Assyrian temple in the Neo-Hittite citadel upends that assumption entirely. The lion design came before the Assyrians, so instead of setting sculptural trends they were copying or even reusing other people’s the sculptures.