Rupert Wace Ancient Art


Near Eastern

  - Near Eastern serpentine duck weight

Near Eastern serpentine duck weight

Mesopotamian. 2000-1500 BC

Private collection Europe; Sold Sotheby's, New York, 11 December 2002, lot 259; Property of a Private Foundation


The stylized bird, carved from an attractive green serpentine, is shown with a broad plump body and blunt, slightly tapered tail. The long neck turned back, hugging the body with the head resting flat.

Length: 17.8 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

  - South Arabian stele bearing a female bust

South Arabian stele bearing a female bust

1st century BC - 1st century AD

With Gimpel Fils prior to 1970s; Collection of Bruno Grunfeld, UK

Similar examples are illustrated in the Gimpel Fils exhibition catalogue, 'Sculpture from South Arabia', 1970, nos. 23 and 45. A comparable example showing the same pose is in the collection of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (acquisition number 21.73). A stele with similar figure but with arms across the body was included in the British Museum exhibition 'Queen of Sheba, Treasures from Ancient Yemen’; catalogue by St John Simpson, London, 2002, p. 199, no. 281.

Dimensions: 24 x 19 cm

The half length figure rounded at the bottom emerges from a flat panel, a ledge protruding along the base which may originally have borne the donor's name. She raises her right hand with the palm open towards the viewer and in her left holds a bundle which may represent wheat. Deeply hollowed eyes below grooved eyebrows which would all have been inlaid, a small cleft in the chin. The figure represents a priestess portrayed to intercede with the sun goddess on behalf of the donor.

  - 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.

  - 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 marble fragment of a 'star gazer' figure

Anatolian marble fragment of a 'star gazer' figure

Early Bronze Age, c. 2700-2100 BC

UK collection

For a similar complete example see Jurgen Thimme, 'Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.', Karlsruhe 1976, no.563, ill. p.403 and Oscar White Muscarella (Ed.), 'Ancient Art: The Norbert Schimmel Collection', Exhibition Catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Mainz 1974, no. 8.

The highly stylized oval head with two small ears and long nasal ridge leans slightly back. A short neck to broad rounded shoulders, deep oblique grooves delineate the arms at the back, with the forearms bent upwards at the elbow to give them a wing-like appearance. The figure broken just above the waist.

Height: 4.8 cm