An early Mesopotamian bronze anchor Axehead, possibly Akkadian, ca. 2334–2154 BC


cast using the lost wax method; crescent shaped blade with three tangs joined to the shaft hole on both sides of the blade except for one section, which is left unconnected, no doubt to facilitate adding the wooden shaft.  Three solid knobs project from the back center of the shaft hole, probably for securing the binding that held the shaft in position (Maxwell-Hyslop 1949, 118).

As noted by several scholars who have discussed this specific form, called an anchor axe because of its shape (Maxwell-Hyslop 1949, n8; Moorey 1971a, 37), it is clearly developed from the simpler and less stable form consisting of a crescent blade and three tangs that were inserted into the shaft by rivets, and called epsilon axes. The decision to add the shaft hole obviously created a stronger and longer-lasting weapon, one with a firmer purchase on the shaft. Both types developed in Mesopotamia and spread to other areas of the Near East.  Anchor axes have been excavated in Egypt, Byblos and Ur.

Reference:  Oscar White Muscarella, Bronze and Iron. Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1988), p. 389, #508-9;

Literature:  P.R.S. Moorey, Catalogue of the Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1971), p. 37;

Maxwell-Hyslop, Rachel "Western Asiatic Shaft-Hole Axes." (1949) Iraq 11, 1: 90-129. 

Condition:  intact with very good overall patina.  Presents very well and an excellent addition to any ancient weapon collection.  Custom mounted. 

Dimensions: Length:  5 inches  (12.5 cm)

Provenance:   Private Virginia collection, acquired at auction in 2005, previously offered at Christies Fine Antiquities, June 11th 1997, Lot 33.

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