Circa 2200-2000 BC
Description: Superb, well-provenanced Mesopotamian Anchor Axe with large solid-cast crescent-shaped blade with three tangs, the center one being connected to an open hole shaft while the outer two tangs terminate in curved channels which would have held in place the wooden shaft. The outer tangs are intentionally set at different distances from the shaft to accommodate a tapered handle. A solid knob protrudes from the back center of the shaft. The proportions of the axe are noteworthy in that the length and the width across the center of the axe are both identical
The blade is cast in the lost wax technique and, as noted by several scholars who have discussed the specific form, is called an “Anchor Axe” because of its shape. It developed from an earlier, simpler and less stable form but the addition of a shaft hole, as in our example, was an innovation that created a stronger and longer lasting weapon.
The Anchor Axe has been excavated in Egypt, at Byblos and Ur. The most securely dated example comes from an Akkadian grave in Ur and dates to the last quarter of the third millennium BC.
Height: 5.0 in. (13.0 cm)
Condition: Intact as shown with smooth, dark green patina. Rarely found in such fine condition.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of the Harvard Byzantine scholar Carroll Wales.
Reference: There is a near identical example in the New York Metropolitan Museum, published at #509 in Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Oscar White Muscarella.
Compare: Norbert Schimmel Collection, Lot #10, Sothebys New York, December 16, 1992, which realized $8,250, and Christies NY, December 5, 2012, #174, est $8,000-12,000.