One of the rarest ancient artifacts from the Luristan Near East culture are COMPLETE whetstone sword / dagger sharpeners. Not only were swords reserved for the highest ranking and most noble class warriors, to have a sharpener like this, would have been reserved for only royalty with its large, elaborate bronze prancing ibex handle. Where a simple raw stone sharpener would have been carried by most soldiers, only one of this caliber would have been in the possession of very few which is why they are so rare. This is a true museum-class example of an ancient Luristan whetstone sharpener with a maximum-sized prancing bronze ibex as its handle. One that compares favorably sold for $13,100 in 2005 at Christies here.
These sharpeners are amongst the most desired of all ancient figural art, often commanding extraordinary prices due to their sculptural and artistic value, as well as rarity.
The few of these rare sharpeners that ever make it to market have either broken whetstones, or missing stones. Often, a forged replica stone is glued in and added in modern times, to "improve" the value. In a huge collection of the finest antiquities and weapons, this was one of only TWO sharpeners, the other being a small piece only a few inches long with partial stone that had to be re-glued back into the bronze handle.
Perfect to accompany the rarest ancient bronze swords from Near Eastern Luristan, this sharpener is impossible to improve on and is most definitely an investment-class antiquity. The stone is not only original to the handle by the evidence of the calcite mineral deposits at the bronze socket joint, but the stone is complete with no breakage. For the stone to have survived intact like this is and remained embedded in the bronze handle is immeasurably rare! The bronze handle shows a full ibex body with both front and rear legs drawn up to its body in a leaping pose. The enormous antlers form complete circles to make the handle. The bronze is spectacular with rich green mineral encrustations and no loss or erosion to the detail. The face of the ibex is superb with every minute detail wonderfully preserved. This is a true museum-class example with a full, unbroken original whetstone and of maximum size.
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 weapons 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.