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Assyrian statuettes and figurines from Samos (1)

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06 Visual arts and architecture

06 Visual arts and architecture

8th century BCE
Iconographic tradition

Some bronze figurines found in Samos were most probably of Assyrian origin.

Three bronze statuettes found in Samos (Greece) can be attributed to an Assyrian origin based on stylistic criteria and their comparison to Assyrian reliefs and stone sculpture. One is a statue of a god, the other two of humans. The god statue, albeit in very poor condition, seems to be a bearded figure with a horned headdress, and could possibly have held divine symbols in its clenched fists. The other statuettes represent a bearded man with one arm raised in salutation and a beardless figure with both arms raised in supplication wearing an embroidered dress.

All three statuettes cannot be dated with certainty. There are however some stylistic details that could indicate a date within the eighth century for their manufacture.

Their function is even more obscure. Jantzen 1972 believes that they may have been furniture components, (as seen on the throne on a wall-painting at Til-Barsib). However, as furniture components they should have pegs at top and bottom, while these bronze statuettes only have pegs at the bottom. Another idea was that they were votive figurines (Börker-Klähn 1973, 43-44), not unknown in the Assyrian world.


Curtis 1994Curtis, J. E. “Mesopotamian bronzes from Greek sites. The workshops of origin.” Iraq 65 (1994) 1-25. [JSTOR (requires subscription)]
Börker-Klähn 1973Börker-Klähn, J. “Verkannte neuassyrische Bronze-Statuetten.” Baghdader Mitteilungen 6 (1973) 41-64.
Jantzen 1972Jantzen, Ulf. Ägyptische und Orientalische Bronzen aus dem Heraion von Samos. Samos 8. Bonn: Habelt 1972.
Thureau-Dangin and Dunand 1936, pl. XLIXThureau-Dangin, F., and Maurice Dunand. Til-Barsib. 2 Vols. Bibliothèque archéologique et historique 23. Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner 1936.

Links (external links will open in a new browser window)
Cf. Hera’s cult on Samos (1)
Cf. Babylonian figurines from Samos (1)
Cf. Bronze figurine of Mušhuššu on Samos (1)

Christina Tsouparopoulou

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Illustrations (click an image to view the full-size version in a new window)

Fig. 1: Front, back and side views of bronze figurine from Samos (BB773). Photos courtesy of Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, Athens (taken from Curtis 1994).
Fig. 2: Drawing of a throne on a wall-painting from Til-barsib (Tell Ahmar) (taken from Thureau-Dangin and Dunand 1936, pl. XLIX).