Collection: Macquarie University History Museum

Horse and Rider Figurine

Accession # MU3185
Culture Canaanite
Period Late Bronze Age
Date ca. 1500 BCE
Provenance Israel
Material/s Ceramic
Collection Macquarie University History Museum
Source Macquarie University, MAC
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MU3185 is a horse and rider figurine. The piece lacks definitely identifiable features such as the horse’s mane, but other features are discernable. The ears of the horse have not been fully preserved, with the right ear clearly missing the top half. The tail on the back of the horse is short and triangular in shape. The back legs of the horse are triangular in shape and sit on a slight angle protruding from the body of the horse, and whereas the front legs are of a similar make and pose, they are covered from the front by an extension of the horse’s body. The rider which sits upon the horse is very generalised with no discernable facial features, and there are no limbs on the figure; the generalised nature of the rider suggests that this is an early version of the figurine. Fragments of figurines of four-legged animals are the most commonplace figurine type in Judah and Jerusalem formulating part of a larger group of clay figurines. The horse and rider figurine type - such as MU3185 - is common through the southern Levant and continues to be constructed into the Persian period (539–333 BCE). The horse obtained a particular significance in the Late Bronze Age in Near Eastern societies; the horse was first used in infantry-based warfare. The Amarna Letters of this period make clear that horses were one of the most important commodities in the system of royal gift exchange in this period. Horses became the primary animal of transportation, warfare, and acted as symbols of royal status, leading to the proliferation of images of horses in Near Eastern art, such as the example of ceramic horse and rider figurines like MU3185. Although the exact significance of these figurines is unknown, the fact that horses were predominantly reserved for royalty and the military suggests that the horse and rider figurines represent some form of military power, and their commonplace nature implies that military power was an important concern in the Late Bronze Age.
  • Syllabus Links
    • Stage 6 Preliminary
      • Investigating Ancient History, The investigation of Ancient sites and sources
      • Features of Ancient Societies; Weapons and Warfare in Ancient Israel; Trade and Cultural Contact in Ancient Israel.
    • Stage 6 HSC Ancient Societies. Option C Society in Israel from Solomon to the fall of Samaria
      • Social structure and political organisation, including; roles and features of the Israelite kingship (ACHAH109); nature and role of the army (ACHAH126).
      • The economy, including; economic exchange. Trade with Judah and Assyria (ACHAH114).
    • Stage 6 HSC Historical Period. Option C The Ancient Levant - First Temple Period c.970-586 BC
      • Israel and Judah in the Ancient Levant, including; Expansion of the population, trade and settlement in the region.
      • Foreign relations with Assyria and Babylon, including; the prosperity of the northern kingdom of Israel and contact with its neighbours from the mid-10th century BC; the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel and its capital Samaria in 722 BC; Judah’s prosperity in the 8th to 6th centuries BC as a client-state of Assyria.
    • Historical Concepts and Skills; Analysis and use of sources
      • Explain the meaning and value of sources for an historical inquiry (ACHAH007, ACHAH009)
      • Analyse sources to identify and account for the different perspectives of individuals and groups in the past (ACHAH010)
      • Analyse and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop reasoned claims (ACHAH008)
      • Identify and analyse problems relating to sources in the investigation of the past (ACHAH011)
    • Historical Concepts and Skills; Historical interpretation
      • Form judgements about historical significance
    • Historical Concepts and Skills; Historical investigation and research.
      • Use evidence from a range of sources to inform investigation and research (ACHAH005)
  • Online Resources
  • Bibliography/References
    • Aruz, Joan, Kim Benzel, and Jean M. Evans. Beyond Babylon; Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.. New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.
    • Aruz, Joan, with Ronald Wallenfels, eds. Art of the First Cities; The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus. New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003.
    • Benzel, Kim, Sarah B. Graff, Yelena Rakic, and Edith W. Watts. Art of the Ancient Near East; A Resource for Educators. New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010.
    • Hodder, Ian. The Leopard's Tale; Revealing the Mysteries of Çatalhöyük. New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006.
    • Winter, Irene J. "Representing Abundance; The Visual Dimension of the Agrarian State." In Settlement and Society; Essays Dedicated to Robert McCormick Adams, edited by Elizabeth C. Stone, pp. 117–38. Los Angeles; Costen Institute, 2006.

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Macquarie University History Museum (2020). Horse and Rider Figurine, MU3185. // (accessed on: 14 June 2020).

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