Ingot with Hittite hieroglyphs

Period: Hittite Empire

Date: ca. 14th–13th century B.C.

Geography: Central Anatolia

Culture: Hittite

Medium: Silver

Dimensions: 3.07 x 3.54 in. (7.8 x 8.99 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Implements-Inscribed

Credit Line: Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989

Accession Number: 1989.281.16


Hittite scribes wrote both in cuneiform script (borrowed from Mesopotamia) and in hieroglyphs, a local development that continued after the end of the Hittite empire into the Neo-Hittite kingdoms. Unfortunately, the hieroglyphs on this silver ingot are not legible, so the writing cannot help us determine the ingot's function.

It has been suggested that the ingot belonged to a silversmith, who might have used it to make or repair jewelry, sculpture, or drinking vessels or other ceremonial containers, such as the stag-headed cup (MMA 1989.281.10) . On the other hand, we know that in the earlier Assyrian Trading Colony period specific weights of Anatolian silver were traded for the goods imported from Assyria. Perhaps this ingot, or pieces from it, were weighed and used as currency in Hittite times, since coins as we know them were only invented in the mid-seventh century B.C.