Gold figures of deities


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

These five gold figures come from a larger set of thirty-eight similar pieces. Most are inlaid with steatite or lapis lazuli (a rare blue stone imported from Afghanistan). They represent Hittite gods and look like the rock-carvings at Yazilikaya; an open-air shrine, dating to the thirteenth century BC, located near the Hittite capital Hattusa (modern Bogazköy) in central Turkey.

The tiny gold figures were found in a rich grave at Carchemish. Cremated bones were placed in pot along with cylinder of lapis lazuli, gold beads a gold panel and gold tassels from the ends of a belt. The grave dates from the seventh century BC but the objects are much older, dating to the thirteenth century BC; so they were probably heirlooms. Unusually for a cremation, it was buried within the walls of the city; most such burials were made outside the settlement walls at that time. The burial was discovered by Leonard Woolley and he suggested the burial belonged to an important person who died during the siege of Carchemish by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in 605 BC.


  • Title: Gold figures of deities
  • Date Created: -1299/-1200
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 0.66in (Last in descr.); Width: 0.50in (Last in descr.)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cloisonn
  • Subject: flower; deity; plant
  • Registration number: 1922,0511.365
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Carchemish
  • Period/culture: Hittite
  • Material: gold; stone; lapis lazuli; steatite
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Woolley, Charles Leonard

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