Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Necklace pendants and beads

Old Babylonian
ca. 18th–17th century B.C.
Mesopotamia, said to be from Dilbat
L. 42 in. (3.6 cm) D. of largest medallion 1 3/8 in. (3.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1947
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406
These gold pendants and beads exemplify the finest craftsmanship in gold from the ancient Near East, and each represents a deity or the symbol of a deity. The two female figures, wearing horned headdresses and long flounced dresses, probably represent Lama, a protective goddess; the disk with rays emanating from a central boss represents Shamash, the sun god; and the forked lightning is the symbol for Adad, the storm god. The two disks with granulated rosettes may be symbols of Ishtar, goddess of love and war represented by the planet Venus. Necklaces with similar symbols can be found on the figures of royal personages in later Assyrian wall reliefs and probably served as both jewelry and talismans.

It is difficult to date the group because the technique and imagery employed were known throughout the first half of the second millennium B.C. Similar gold disks with extensive granulation have been found in a tomb at Ebla in western Syria and in a private house at Larsa in southern Mesopotamia. Other objects in the hoard seem to have been made earlier and kept for centuries. It is possible that such a hoard would have been gathered and kept by a jeweler, who would have use for such materials.
#7025: Necklace pendants and beads, Part 1
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#7082: Necklace pendants and beads, Part 2
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Ca. 1911, known and possibly purchased by Ernst Herzfeld, near Tell al-Deylam (ancient Dilbat); by 1914, collection of Georg Hahn, Berlin; acquired by the Museum in 1947, purchased from Charlotte Weidler, New York, on behalf of Georg Hahn.

“Art of the Ancient Near East,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 4–September 5, 1949.

“Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries: The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 14, 1970–June 1, 1971.

“Gold,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 14–September 9, 1973.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department,” MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, The Aiche Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1983.

“Babylone: à Babylone d’hier et d’aujourd’hui,” Musée du Louvre, Paris, March 14, 2008–March 15, 2009.

“Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 17, 2008–March 15, 2009.

Meissner, Bruno. 1915. Grundzüge der babylonisch-assyrischen plastik. Der Alte Orient15. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, p. 64, fig. 115.

Meissner, Bruno. 1920. Babylonien und Assyrien I. Heidelberg: C. Winter, pp. 270-271, figs. 147-148.

Herzfeld, Ernst. 1941. Iran in the ancient East. London, New York: Oxford university press, p. 145, fig. 261.

Van Buren, E. Douglas. 1945. Symbols of the Gods in Mesopotamian Art. Analecta Orientalia 23. Roma: Pontificum Institutum Biblicum, p. 63, 73, 89.

Wilkinson, Charles K. "The Art of the Ancient Near East." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 7 (7), pp. 189, 195.

Wiseman, Donald J. 1960. "The Goddess Lama at Ur." Iraq 22, p. 168, pl. XXIII, f-h.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1970. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries, exh. cat. New York: Dutton, no. 13, p. 83.

Maxwell-Hyslop, K.R. 1971.Western Asiatic jewelry c.3000-612 B.C. London: Methuen, pp. 88, 145, figs. 61-65c.

Boehmer, Rainer Michael. 1972. Die Kleinfunde von Bogazköy aus den Grabungskampagnen 1931-1939 und 1952-1969. Wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 87: Bogazköy-Hattusa. Berlin: Gebr. Man Verlag, pp. 25-26, figs. 13d-e.

Orthmann, Winfried. 1975. "Babylonisch-assyrisches Kunsthandwerk." In Der Alte Orient, edited by Winfried Orthmann. Propyläen Kunstgeschichte, Vol. 14. Berlin: Propyläen Verlag Berlin, no. 253a, pp. 327, 330, pl. 253 a.

Liebling, Roslyn. 1978. Time Line of Culture in the Nile Valley and its Relationship to Other World Cultures. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Arnaud, Daniel, Yves Calvet, and Jean-Louis Huot. 1979. "Ilšu-Ibnišu, orfèvre de l'E.Babbar de Larsa. La jarre L.76.77 et son contenu." Syria 56 (1-2), pp. 42, 44, 47, 50, 59-60, pl. IV.

Oates, Joan. 1979. Babylon. London: Thames and Hudson, p. 53, fig. 31.

Wolters, Jochem. 1981. "A Short History of the Art of Granulation -- II: types and styles." AURUM 87, fig. 1.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 54, fig. 22.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 1983. "Necklace with Pendants." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 8.

Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 20, fig. 19.

Pittman, Holly, in collaboration with Joan Aruz. 1987. Ancient Art in Miniature: Near Eastern Seals from the Collection of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 30-31, fig. 17.

Invernizzi, Antonio. 1992. Dal Tigri All'Eufrate II: Babilonesi e Assiri. Firenze: Casa editrice Le lettere, p. 87, fig. 139 (ill.).

Lilyquist, Christine. 1994. "The Dilbat Hoard." Metropolitan Museum Journal 29, pp. 5-36.

Kawami, Trudy S. 1996. "Melammu and Puluhtu: The Aesthetic, Religious and Political Significance of the Ancient Near Eastern Shamshatu Medallion." Jewelry 1 (1996-1997), pp. 80-81, figs. 1-2.

Huot, Jean-Louis. 2003. American University of Beirut Archaeological Museum Newsletter 17, p. 17.

Benzel, Kim. 2008. “Pendants and Beads.” In Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C., exh. cat. edited by Joan Aruz, Kim Benzel, and Jean M. Evans. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 4, pp. 24-25.

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, image 15, pp. 80-81.

Aruz, Joan. 2016. "Bronze to Iron: Art in Transition." In Assyria to Iberia: Art and Culture in the Iron Age, edited by Joan Aruz and Michael Seymour. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 17, fig. 3.
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