Ancient Near East, northwestern Iran, Luristan, ca. 1200 to 800 BCE. A lost-wax cast bronze short sword, with handle and blade cast from different alloys. The blade is wide, with a broad, flat ridge, tapering slowly to a sharp point. The handle has a distinctive curved diamond-pattern forming its hilt and a series of discs that were likely once wrapped with a textile to form a grip. The guard is trapezoidal and narrow; the alloy of the handle has some hints of bright blue azurite in its patina. Size: 1.9" W x 17.25" H (4.8 cm x 43.8 cm)
The region of Luristan, which encompasses the rugged Zagros Mountain chain, is famous for its bronze work that was above and beyond the skill level of contemporary groups. The affluent group in Luristan society that patronized the metalworking industry and purchased fine items like this sword were nomadic horsemen. They would travel into towns and purchase swords and other bronze and iron objects from craftsmen there. Although these horsemen were pre-literate, we know from the records of the Elamites and other southern neighbors that these tribesmen functioned as mercenaries in the constant warfare between the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Elamites. When they died, they were buried in rock-covered tombs with their swords.
Provenance: private J. Connell collection, Massachusetts, USA; ex Piscopo collection
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