One of the most impressive and desirable ancient objects from the Luristan Near East culture are COMPLETE decorative bronze cheek-piece horse bit harnesses. They are truly works of ancient art and function, most likely reserved for royal war horses and chariot horses of the day. This museum-class example shows cheek-piece figures of the ibex. The ibex is a prominent animal shown in many Luristan bronzes. Considering the uncanny ability of this animal to magically scale sheer cliffs, it was likely this animal was viewed as a mythical beast with special powers, hence bringing protection and power to objects with its image. Luristan bronze decorative cheek-piece horse harnesses such as this, are extremely scarce and we are proud to offer such a fine example here. It is believed these large decorative horse bits were used for chariot horses. One thing is certain considering its size and what it would have cost in ancient times, a piece like this was reserved for only the most noble class, royal warriors and riders of the day.
The bronze is well-preserved with wonderful details to the ibex figures. The cross bar is complete with each curled terminal ends, and both unbroken cheekpieces intact. This is a true museum-class specimen, one of only a few of this size and quality we have ever encountered.
This artifact has been professionally cleaned and conserved in our lab, being treated with a special sealer developed and formulated by us specifically for ancient metal preservation. The patina shows beautiful traits only found in authentic ancient weapons. It is a patina like this that the finest ancient bronzes are prized for and it is a patina like this that brings a premium in price and value of the specimen. There is no active bronze disease. Bronze disease forms a corrosive powder that will literally eat away an artifact over time and destroy it.
WARNING: There is a STAGGERING number of fake bronze objects on the market. Many being sold as "authentic" were never meant to deceive and were made as far back as 100 years ago as exact reproductions for museums to sell in their gift shops. Other examples are modern fabrications specifically intended to fool unwitting buyers. As fine quality intact, original specimens become more scarce, the techniques to fake these objects have become highly advanced. We have personally handled numerous well-done fakes with extremely convincing patinas. The degree to which the fakers have been able to replicate patina to disguise their work requires an expert examination by highly experienced individuals. It is common to find very reasonably priced weapons that are made up of part original and part modern components or wholly modern pieces displaying elaborate artificial patinas. All purchases should include a written guarantee of authenticity from the seller, with unconditional and lifetime return policies regarding such guarantee, such as we provide.
With origins dating back to prehistory, the empire of ancient Iran was one of the world's first superpower civilizations by the time it had taken form in the second millennium B.C.. The various cultures that can be included in the former ancient Iranian Empire stretched across an enormous geographical region extending beyond what is called the Iranian Plateau. To gain insight as to just how large this area was, the Iranian Plateau alone, includes Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan and comprises approximately nearly 4 million square kilometers (almost 1.5 million square miles). The area of ancient Iran included not only the massive Iranian plateau made up of the tribes of the Medes, Persians, Bactrians and Parthians, but also included groups as far west as the Scythians (an eastern Scythian tribe existed in parallel in Central Asia), Sarmartians, Cimmerians and Alans populating the steppes north of the Black Sea. To the eastern boundary of the empire, the Saka tribes dominated, spreading as far as Xinjiang, China. From a very early period, the ancient Iranian peoples have been historically documented to exist in two separate continuums - a western civilization (Persia) and an eastern civilization (Scythia).
The beginnings of ancient Iran trace back to an influx into the Iranian cultural region of bands of horse-mounted steppe nomads from Central Asia, speaking Indo-European languages. Some settled in eastern Iran but other groups migrated deeper to the west settling in the Zagros Mountains. These first people descended from the proto-Iranians, originating from the Central Asian Bronze age culture of what is called the Bactria-Margiana Complex (aka Oxus Civilization), dated 2200-1700 B.C..
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 7000 BC. The south-western and western part of the Iranian Plateau participated in the traditional Ancient Near East with Elam, from the Early Bronze Age, and later with various other peoples, such as the Kassites, Mannaeans, and Gutians. The Medes unified Iran as a nation and empire in 625 BC. The Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC), founded by Cyrus the Great, was the first true global superpower state and it ruled from the Balkans to North Africa and also Central Asia, spanning three continents, from their seat of power in Persis (Persepolis). It was the largest empire yet seen and the first world empire. The Achaemenid Empire was the only civilization in all of history to connect over 40% of the global population, accounting for approximately 49.4 million of the world's 112.4 million people in around 480 BC. They were succeeded by the Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires, who successively governed Iran for almost 1,000 years and made Iran once again as a leading power in the world. Persia's arch-rival was the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire.
This historical achievements and the breadth of diverse cultures included of this once great empire are too vast to adequately credit in this brief synopsis. The Islamic conquest of Persia in the middle of the 7th century A.D. and the collapse of the Sassanid Empire marked the end of once geographically expansive and culturally diverse ancient superpower.
The term LURISTAN references artifacts made by a society of semi-nomadic people that once lived in the mountainous region of Northwest Iran. Little is known of this ancient culture but the most impressive traces are that of the bronze artifacts they left behind that can be found in parts of present-day Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. These include highly decorative equipment for their horses, ceremonial containers and numerous weapons ranging from simple utilitarian pieces on up to elaborate masterpieces of warfare.
It is theorized that the Luristan bronzes were crafted by the earliest existence of the Median empire but this has never been proven as written records of the Medes have not survived. The Medes were Indo-Iranian people originally from central Asia who settled in Northwest Iran in the 9th century BC and later defeated the Assyrian empire in 614 BC. Their success is short-lived and their empire which once stretched from central Iran to the Persian Gulf and Anatolia was overrun in 550 BC by the Persians.