Orthostat relief: seated figure holding a lotus flower, Basalt, Hittite

Orthostat relief: seated figure holding a lotus flower

ca. 9th century B.C.
Syria, Tell Halaf (ancient Guzana)
26 3/4 x 42 1/8 x 20 1/16 in. (68 x 107 x 51 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1943
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 400
The powerful Neo-Assyrian Empire influenced the surrounding region culturally as well as politically. In the west a number of small but powerful Aramaean city-states acted as a barrier between Assyria and the Mediterranean coast. These have been called Neo-Hittite city-states because of their dynastic continuity and relation to the preceding Hittites of Anatolia. These rival states were gradually brought under the control of the Neo-Assyrian Empire by military conquest.

Stone slabs carved in low relief had traditionally decorated the walls of the Neo-Hittite palaces and temples. This slab is carved on two sides. On the front, a bearded male figure holding a lotus blossom is shown seated before two bullmen supporting a winged sun disk. On the side, a beardless male figure stands with a mace raised in his hand.

This slab is one of many excavated at Tell Halaf, the ancient Aramaean site of Guzana, bearing images of fantastic creatures, hunting scenes, and ceremonial banquets. Carved in the late tenth or ninth century B.C., before the Assyrian conquests of the region, the reliefs appear to have embellished an earlier building and then been reused on the walls of the palace of King Kapara. This building was a special local form known as a bit hilani, composed of two parallel long rooms, one of which had a pillared entrance.
1911–13, excavated by Baron Max von Oppenheim; ceded to Baron Max von Oppenheim in the division of finds; acquired by the Museum in 1943, purchased from the Alien Property Custodian, New York.
von Oppenheim, Max. 1933. Tell Halaf: A New Culture in Oldest Mesopotamia. New York: G.P. Putnam, p. 178, pl. XXXVII.

von Oppenheim, Max, Dietrich Opitz, and Anton Moortgat. 1955. Tell Halaf III: Die Bildwerke. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., pp. 43-44, 94-95, pl. 19a, 98, no. A3 20 and 171.

Orthmann, Winfried. 1971. Untersuchungen zur Späthetitischen Kunst. Saarbrucker Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, Vol. 8. Bonn: R. Habelt, p. 121, pl. 10g, no. A3/171.

Van De Mieroop, Marc. 2007. A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 B.C. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 219, fig. 11.1.

Cholidis, Nadja and Lutz Martin. 2010. Tell Halaf – Im Krieg zerstörte Denkmäler und ihre Restaurierung, Band V. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., pp. 368-369.

Benzel, Kim, Sarah B. Graff, Yelena Rakic, and Edith W. Watts. 2010. Art of the Ancient Near East: A Resource for Educators. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, fig. 9, p. 23.