Saturday, 4 December 2010

Isn't this lovely?

This small gold dog pendant is one of the first examples of gold- and silverwork in the 4th millennium BC and it illustrates the dexterity of metallurgists active in Susa in the Late Uruk period, from 3300 to 3100 BC. (Susa lies in present day south west Iran).
The art of metallurgy was a skill acquired in that period. It encapsulates all the metalworking techniques known at the time, and also provides valuable information about one of the two principal breeds of domestic dogs in the Susian plain.
The breed of dog represented here is different from the long, narrow salukis featured on the ceramic painted vases that were found in the Susa I necropolis dating from the foundation of the city. This stocky animal with a curled-over tail was domesticated, as indicated by the collar around its neck. Such domestication was not recent, dating back to pre-Neolithic times. But the 4th millennium BC was marked by an increase in pastoral activity throughout the Near East, probably as a consequence of improved exploitation of ovine wool, and the dog became a highly prized assistant to man. Dogs often feature in the art of this period, particularly in Susa, in the form of statuettes and pendants.
This pendant is exhibited in the Louvre.