A fine Syria-Hittite Wagon with Rider and Oxen, ca 2000 - 1800 BC

The wagon with small covering, the base pierced at back for the attachment of wheels (now missing) and pierced at front for central pole, the small arched taupe protecting the rider who is positioned in the well of the cart, holding the reigns of two oxen, all on a integrated rectangular plinth.

This fine ceramic wagon is one of many examples of an artistic type well known from the early second millennium B. C. Such models were probably votive offerings, to be left in shrines, sacred caches, or tombs. They reflect the distinctive moment when men first used domesticated horses or cattle to draw wheeled vehicles, creating the beginning of powered transport on land. Although drawings of wheeled vehicles occur all over Eurasia, this seminal development in human culture probably originated in Mesopotamia or the Russian Steppes in the late third millennium B. C. Models similar to this one occur in Syria and and in the eastern part of Anatolia. The new technology of wheeled transport represent the leading edge of civilization in the eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age. The models show both farm carts for carrying produce and war chariots. This example is a formally dazzling work that shapes the little wagon with its high railings and the oxen with their great, outflung horns to a linear design in three dimensions. Like a tracery in space, the clean-cut cart moves forward, a paradigm of intelligent craftsmanship.

For a related examples see:  M. A. Littauer, J. H. Crouwel, Peter Raulwing, "Selected writings on chariots and other early vehicles, riding and harness" pages 403 - 407 and in bronze see: 'Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection,' page 22.

Dimensions:  overall height is 7.5 cm (3 inches) Length: 8 cm (3 1/8 inches)

Condition:  Various cracks, the arched covering broken in three places and professionally rejoined, rejoined at back, original wheels missing.  Despite these issues, a portrayal that is quite unusual with a subject matter holds great charm and appeal.

Provenance: Private Maryland collection.


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