Near Eastern

  - South Arabian alabaster head of a woman

South Arabian alabaster head of a woman

c. 1st Century BC - 1st century AD

From the Collection of the late Ralph Hinshelwood Daly OBE (1924-2006), acquired prior to 1967.
In 1955 Daly joined the Colonial Service and was posted to the Aden Protectorates that today form the Republic of Yemen. It was here that he met and married his wife Elizabeth Anne Daly (née Fenton Wells) and acquired the collection of alabaster sculptures. In 1967 the Aden Protectorates became independent from Britain, and Ralph, awarded an OBE for his work, retired from the Colonial Service and returned with Elizabeth to Europe, taking their collection of alabasters with them.

For a similar example, nicknamed 'Miriam' by the workman at the time of discovery, see St. J. Simpson (ed.), 'Queen of Sheba, Treasures of Ancient Yemen', London, 2002, pp. 194-195, no. 270. This head retains the plaster hair.

Height: 29.6 cm (inc. base)

The head with long tapering neck and shield shaped face. Thin arching brows above almond-shaped eyes inlaid with white stone, the pupils originally of glass or lapis (mostly missing). Her long straight nose above a narrow mouth. Her roughly chiselled hair seemingly tucked behind small, protruding ears. This rough finish to the hair and top of the head may have allowed the figure to be finished with the addition of plaster or stucco. The alabaster base, if not original, is certainly ancient. The stepped form is more usually associated with altars but it may have been reused.

This form of head is associated with the kingdom of Qataban which, together with Ma’in, Saba, Himyar, and Hadhramaut, was one of the five kingdoms of southern Arabia. Pliny the Elder recorded that Timna, the capital of this ancient kingdom was a busy metropolis housing no less than 65 temple complexes. Its wealth was based on its monopoly of the ancient cinnamon and incense trade routes. The area was first excavated in the 1950s by the American archaeologist Wendell Phillips, (W. Phillips, 'Qataban and Sheba: Exploring the ancient kingdoms on the Biblical spice routes of Arabia', London, 1955).

  - Anatolian carnelian ram or goat's head amulet

Anatolian carnelian ram or goat's head amulet

Early 3rd millennium BC

Trampitsch collection, Paris


Width: 4.8 cm

The pendant carved from an attractive translucent pink stone, possibly carnelian, in the form of a stylised head of a ram or goat. The triangular head with domed forehead, nostrils and almond shaped eyes incised. The curved horns extend horizontally, the fronts with etched lines to indicate tight spiralling. The back of the head hollowed with vertical hole at the top between the horns to allow for suspension.

  - Phoenician glass head bead

Phoenician glass head bead

Carthaginian. c. 5th-4th century BC

Collection of Eberhardt Voigt (1920-1983) Germany, acquired 1960s – early 1970s and thence by descent

For the distinctive colouring and style, compare a Carthaginian pendant of slightly later date in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (acc. no. 17.194.735).

Rod-formed, the face is of yellow opaque glass above a square blue beard, with circular blue and white eyes, yellow lips, and a twisted band of blue glass across the forehead indicating the hair, a small ridged suspension loop above.

Height: 3.2 cm

  - Anatolian pottery vessel

Anatolian pottery vessel

Hacilar Region, Middle Chalcolithic, c. 5000 BC

Collection of Elsa Bloch-Diener, Bern, acquired 1970s

For the shape, compare a similar vessel sold Christie’s, New York, 11 December 2003, lot 95 (price realised $23,900). See also an example in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (accession number 64.286.5).

Of biconical form, with slightly pointed shoulders, straight cylindrical neck and circular rim. Painted on the neck and shoulders in burnished red with bold zigzagging stripes and triangles, the rounded base left bare.

Two cracks from rim to mid belly secured and filled. Small area of restoration to rim.

This comes with a thermoluminescence test report from Oxford Authentication confirming its antiquity.

Hacilar was a prehistoric settlement in Southwest Turkey, the earliest periods of occupation dating to the early 8th millennium BC. Excavation of this important site took place in the late 1950s under the direction of James Mellaart, the eminent British archaeologist responsible for the discovery of Çatalhöyük. His work at the site revealed similar decoration in the houses to that seen on these characteristic vessels; geometric patterns in red, often burnished, paint on a cream slip.

Height: 15 cm

  - A group of five Anatolian terracotta bulls

A group of five Anatolian terracotta bulls

3rd millennium BC

Private collection Switzerland, acquired 1980s-1990s


Of simple, stylised form, with white slip over all. Each bull with heavy-set body, short splayed legs, and stumpy tail, the broad triangular head with blunt, downwards facing muzzle and thick outsplayed horns demarcated from the face with two incised lines, two round depressions for the eyes and a third for the mouth.

Terracotta figurines of bulls and humped zebu have been unearthed across Anatolia and into the Indus Valley, all with typically stylised, simplified form, squat legs and large horns. Their function is not known, though some are pierced through the neck or hump, suggesting they may have been fitted to model carts, perhaps serving as toys or else as votives.

With a thermoluminescence test report from Oxford Authentication confirming antiquity.

Largest measuring 10.8 cm x 17.2 cm

  - Near Eastern bronze plaque of the Master of Animals

Near Eastern bronze plaque of the Master of Animals

Luristan. c. 700 BC

Private collection, USA acquired 1990s

A cheekpiece from a horse bit depicting a similar subject in the Nasli M Heeramaneck Collection of Ancient Near Eastern and Central Asian Art now on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Diameter: 6.5 cm

The circular bronze disc decorated in low relief with the Master of the Animals standing in the centre holding an ibex by a rear leg in each hand. The hero is depicted with a long pointed beard and large round eyes. He wears a long belted tunic and thick boots. A repousse beaded border around the edge of the plaque.

Some small losses around the outer border and a small hole above his right foot filled.

  - Amlash terracotta steatopygous female figure

Amlash terracotta steatopygous female figure

Early 1st millennium BC

European private collection, UK and Switzerland, formed in the 1970s and 1980s; Private collection, Switzerland, acquired 2003

Comparable examples were included in the Barcelona exhibition of Mediterranean female images from Prehistoric times to the Roman Period, see the catalogue, 'Deesses Diosas Goddesses', 2000, nos. 80 and 81.

Height: 33 cm

The stylised figure standing with arms folded in beneath the diminutive breasts, the elongated body with grooved spine, exaggerated hips and protruding buttocks tapering to narrow legs. The bulbous head with double pierced ears and tall headdress.

Amlash refers to sites in the province of Gilan, Iran along the Caspian Sea. The culture is renowned for its distinctive ceramic figures and animals.

This comes with a thermoluminescence test report from Oxford Authentication confirming its antiquity.