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Horse cheekpieces (1)

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06 Visual arts and architecture

horse harness
8th century BCE
7th century BCE
Neo-Assyrian Empire
Iconographic tradition

Cheekpieces in the form of a horse are known both from Luristan in Iran, and from Assyria. According to Moorey (1971, 115) the fact that there was no tradition of manufacturing zoomorphic cheekpieces in Assyria before Sennacherib could possibly indicate that the Assyrians borrowed the design from Iran. Assyrian cheekpieces in the form of a running horse worn by royal chariot horses can also be seen on Assyrian reliefs from the time of Sennacherib.

Cheekpieces in the form of a galloping horse similar to the Assyrian ones have been excavated on the islands of Rhodes and Samos in Greece. These were most possibly of Assyrian origin, either direct imports or copies of Assyrian models.


Moorey 1971, 115Moorey, P. R. S. Catalogue of the Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean Museum. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1971.
Curtis 1994Curtis, J. E. “Mesopotamian bronzes from Greek sites. The workshops of origin.” Iraq 65 (1994) 1-25. [JSTOR (requires subscription)]

Christina Tsouparopoulou

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

Fig. 1: Bronze cheekpiece from Samos (B 1215). Photo courtesy of Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, Athens (taken from Curtis 1994).
Fig. 2: Bronze (?) cheekpiece from Nimrud. Photo courtesy of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq (taken from Curtis 1994).