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Israelite Art

Israelite bronze calf.
Israelite Period - Iron Age I: 1200-1000 BC.
L. 6.2 cm. (2 ? in.), H. 6 cm. (2 ? in.)
Perfect condition. Very fine glossy dark green patina.
Ex. G. D. collection, since 1960???s

The calf is standing with the head raised forward and the back legs slightly loose and apart. The tail is twisted over the back. The figure is finely modeled with realistic details of a newborn calf, with wide open eyes, small horns, and folded ears, and slim body with delicate hooves and relatively long legs.

The bull in ancient times was an iconographic symbol of power and fertility, associated with the West Semitic storm-god Hadad. The bull and calf were at times identified with the gods El and Baal. In some examples bulls served as pedestals on which the image of the god was placed. This type of depictions was probably the source for the biblical golden calf made during the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt (Exodus 32), and for Jeroboam’s commissioning of two golden calves to be placed in the temples of Dan and Bethel (I Kings 12) which the prophets vehemently condemned as a symbol of idolatry.

Cf. O’Neill, J. P., editor in Chief, Treasures of the Holy Land. Ancient Art from the Israel Museum, Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986, p. 153, no. 73 – bull from the Samaria region, early 12th century BC.

Statuette of a calf, Tel Ashkelon, Middle Canaanite period: First half of 2nd millennium BCE, Bronze with silver plate, H. 10.5 cm (4 in) L II cm (4 1/4 in).
The Israel Museum website:





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Gideon Sasson • Sasson  Ancient Art • King David Hotel - Annex, Jerusalem - 94101,  Israel
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