Art of Kingdom of Van

5th-4th century BC artistic metal products are noteworthy for their reflection of the influence of the culture of the Kingdom of Van (Urartu) on the culture of Achaemenid Empire.

Vessels with handles in shape of winged ibex, bulls, lions, horses, rhytons with images of the same animals and riders, and pectorals (chestplates in the shape of half-moon) have been common in the Kingdom of Van as well as Achaemenid Empire. So, Achaemenid models might be based on the Armenian prototypes.

The question of the influence of the Armenian culture on the Mediterranean is very interesting. Among the Urartian metal products, there have been decorative boilers depicting birds with outstretched wings and human torsos.

Bronze cauldrons with such features were widely spread outside the Kingdom of Van. Two fine examples of such boilers were found in the tomb of the Phrygian king excavated in a huge mound in Gordion. The researchers unanimously recognized that they were Urartian or at least based on their art.

A large number of such figures comes from Greece and reaches Etruria. Not all objects found in the Mediterranean countries can be considered Urartian, but many of them have been based on Urartian samples.

For example, the Musasir temple of the god Khaldi built in the 9th century BC and depicted on the reliefs of the palace of the Assyrian king Sargon has all characteristic features of ancient Greek temples: a catwalk, columns along the facade, triangular pediment, the decoration of the walls and columns with shields.

It is important to know that there is a big gap both in terms of time and territory between the temple of the Kingdom of Van and the Greek ones.

The Musasir’s temple preceded the most ancient Greek temples by more than 250 years, and its architecture probably served as a prototype for the Greeks who later began to build their structures.

There is some resemblance in helmets as well, namely those with a crest on the top, which were found in the Toprakkale castle (Rusahinili, “city of (King) Rusa I”). The crest looked like a brush on a curved base attached to the helmet from the top. This earlier kind of Urartian helmets has become a prototype for quite popular Greek helmets.

Cradle of Civilization. David Lang

A gold bracelet with tips in form of lions’ heads. Kingdom of Van. 8th century BC.
• Earrings. 8th-7th century BC.
A silver rhyton in form of a horse’s head. Arin-Berd, 5th century BC.
An illustration of helmets found in Toprakkale.
Bronze cauldrons from a huge mound in Gordion. Kingdom of Van.

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