A Syro-Hittite Clay Wagon Model, ca. early 2nd millennium BC


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.

Considered as one of the major breakthroughs in man's technological evolution, these simple ceramic vehicles reflect the distinctive moment when men first used domesticated animals to draw wheeled vehicles, thus beginning powered transport on land.  Probably drawn by a pair of bovids, these wagon models may have been intended for cult use, or as grave gifts, to be left in shrines, sacred caches, or tombs. 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 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.  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: Height: 4 1/2 inches (11.43 cm)

Condition:  The wooden axles used to attach the wheels are modern, chip to the front left wheel, otherwise complete and in very good condition.

Provenance:  M.G. private collection, Lusby Maryland acquired from the trade in Jerusalem in the early 2000's.

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