Western Asiatic South Arabian Head
Antiquities - Western Asiatic
GBP (£) 600 - 800
EUR (€) 700 - 930
USD ($) 750 - 1,000
3rd-2nd century BC
A carved alabaster block with face and hair detail, oversized lentoid eye sockets to accept marble inserts, scrolled ears, row of attachment points to the brow and temples. 11 kg, 23cm (9"). Fair condition.
Property of a West London gentleman; acquired between 1980-2010.
See Deverill, J and Katz, K. Sculpture From South Arabia. London, 1970;
Simpson, J (ed) Queen of Sheba: Treasures From Ancient Yemen, London, 2002.
South Arabia had long possessed important trading posts along its shores, many of them taking advantage of the sea routes to India that were navigated by merchants from Ptolemaic Egypt and the Roman Empire. There were also important overland trade routes through the area for the export of costly incense from the region and these two trade routes contributed to the wealth of the area. It was also the influence of the Classical cultures that passed through and traded there that resulted in a mix Classical and indigenous art styles and ideas. The majority of art that is found in religious, palace and domestic contexts is to a large extent Classical; it is the funerary art that remains purely South Arabian, and this may be due to a strong ancestor cult that did not require, or even resisted, Classical culture. The heads often have inscriptions beneath them naming the individual and the clan to which they belonged. They were either set up over the graves, often set into stela, or in niches in funerary chapels where rituals to honour the dead were carried out. A distinguishing feature of these heads are the large eyes, which were often either painted or inlaid with stone or shell. Many also show recesses for the attachment of jewellery, as in this example which has a diadem possibly marking him out as an important individual.
Monday 27th February 2017 :
Antiquities & Coins
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Lot No. 0659