Bill Robertson

Smiting God

Wearing a tall, conical headdress with horns indicated in the front, this bronze statue, now broken off at the thigh, stands 8.7 inches tall.

The statue presents a melange of cultural clues. The headdress is the Syrian hybrid of the Egyptian White Crown and the Mesopotamian divine horned tiara. The pendant disc necklace resembles one on a relief from Mardin, now in Turkish Kurdestan, and another on a wall painting from Mari in southeast Syria; both date to the reign of Shamshi-Adad I (c. 1813–1781 B.C.) of Assyria. However, because the kilt and belt are Anatolian features, most scholars associate the bronze god with a Syro-Anatolian group of artifacts of the 14th–13th century B.C. and consider the necklace a puzzling anachronism. The statue may represent the storm god, Baal, who according to one Ugaritic text, “lets his voice resound in the clouds and hurls the lightning down to the earth.” Baal was denounced by the Hebrews: “And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them” (2 Kings 10:26).