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An important Canaanite bronze "Eye" Battle Axe, Middle Bronze Age I, ca. 2200-2000 BC
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An important Canaanite bronze "Eye" Battle Axe, Middle Bronze Age I, ca. 2200-2000 BC

cast using the lost wax method, this crescent shaped axe has been transformed and developed from the earlier anchor axe style.  However in this example, the socket and blade are joined at the top, bottom, and center, leaving two apertures, and the blade shape has been modified. Although closer in form to the anchor axe, it is usually called an "eye" or fenestrated axe for obvious reasons.  

Probably ceremonial, for both sides of the blade are decorated in raised relief, the obverse shows two baboons trying to ascend a high pole with the help of the war god Resheph, his hand fusing energy into their necks and taking this energy from seven small pyramids. The ascension is an ecstatic one over the sevenfold world mountain mentioned in the Gilgamesh epos. The baboons and other animals with a protruding nose are well known partakers in the marzeah of Resheph.  The reverse shows Resheph taking energy from the bird of ecstasy putting it into the divided and personified world pillar.

For a very similar parallel see Dunand, M. Fouilles de Byblos II (Excavations in Byblos) 1933 - 1938, fig. 422, p.391), excavated at the Temple of the Obelisks, Byblos between 1933-1938.

Reference :  Oscar White Muscarella, Bronze and Iron. Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1988), p. 386, #510-511.

Maxwell-Hyslop, Rachel " Western Asiatic Shaft-Hole Axes." (1949) Iraq 11, 1: 90-129, #120f. 

Miron, E., Axes and Adzes from Canaan, Institute of Archeology, Tel-Aviv University, Franz Steiner (Verlag , Stuttgart, 1992) cat. no. 231, p. 53, plate 15.

Condition:  A 3/4” piece missing from the socket and a small loss to the front edge of blade, otherwise intact.  A very rare example.  Custom mounted. 

Dimensions: Length: 4-3/8”H., 2-7/8”W

Provenance:   The Nourollah Elghanayan Collection of Ancient Art, assembled 1950-1970's.  Nourollah Elghanayan (1915 - 2009), NYC, Iranian-born businessman started buying land in Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s focusing on Manhattan property on Second and Third avenues.  His sons turned the holdings into a booming real-estate business. Now, the family is worth $1.9 billion and has more than 20 million square feet of residential and commercial holdings to its name, split among two firms.


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