A unique Assyrian cuneiform-inscribed bronze axe blade with the name of the Assyrian king Adad-nirari I, dating back to the reign of King Adad-Nirari I (1307-1275 BC) from Assyria, is currently on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
November 8, 2023

Ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, Early Bronze Age, ca. 2500 to 2000 BCE. A stunning axe head forged from copper that has developed incredibly lustrous patina in russet and green hues across its surfaces. The axe head presents with a vertically-oriented trapezoidal blade emanating from the front of a cylindrical socketing shaft with a slightly flared base and a thickened top periphery that aided in reinforcing the tool through countless strikes. Behind the narrow shaft is the effigy of a ram lying recumbent upon all four legs with its body slightly raised and its alert head bearing an incised mouth as well as a grand pair of spiraling horns. Axe heads like this example were perhaps used in ceremonial contexts rather than on the battlefield. Rams in Mesopotamian artistry typically represented fertility and virility; however, they also bore connotations pertaining to Inanna, the goddess of love and vegetation. Size: 5.875″ L x 1.25″ W x 3.125″ H (14.9 cm x 3.2 cm x 7.9 cm)

Cf. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 57.13.5; also Petrie, W.M. Flinders. “Tools and Weapons.” Hazell, Watson and Viney, LD., London, 1917, 1:4, O. Socketted Axe; Pointed, Long and Tubular Sockets; Oriental, fig. 131.

Provenance: ex-estate of Eldert Bontekoe, Pegasi Numismatics, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, acquired before 2000

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Small nick to one side of blade near edge, with nicks and light pitting to blade faces, socketing shaft, and ram, softening to some finer ram details, and light encrustations within socketing shaft, otherwise intact and excellent. Lustrous patina, fantastic colors, and smooth textures across all surfaces.