National Military Museum donates masterpieces from ancient Iran

6 December 2016

Bronze armband and pin displaying a winged mythical creatureBronze armband and pin displaying a winged mythical creature
A selection from the donated weaponsA selection from the donated weapons

The collection of the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) was recently expanded by a donation from the National Military Museum: approximately seventy swords, spearheads, clubs, and axes, thousands of years old, from ancient Iran. In addition to weapons, the donated items also include harnesses, armbands, necklaces, and bronze kitchenware. They include magnificent pieces such as a  bronze pin decorated with a winged mythical creature, and a shield with incised images of predators.

Some of the acquisitions are on display in the permanent exhibition of the Netherlands and the ancient Near East (first floor).

Bronze objects from Luristan

The objects can be dated to between 2600 and 600 BC. Most of them originate from western Iran, the rugged mountainous region of Luristan. Luristan bronzeware is famous for its fine quality and superb craftsmanship. It is often identifiable from its decorations with highly stylised animal motifs. The bronze objects were found in necropolises. The graves concerned were probably those of a nomadic people, since as yet no settlements have been found in their vicinity. The bronze harness suggests that they were horsemen.

Valuable addition to the Near East collection

These archaeological objects were collected by the Dutch National Military Museum in Soest in the 1960s and 1970s. Since they were not recent enough to be included in this museum’s current displays of military art since 1450, they were consigned to storage. However, they undoubtedly constitute a valuable addition to the ancient Near East collection of the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities.