© Erich Lessing

At full gallop, a charioteer pulls his bow and aims at fleeing animals in a spirited royal hunting scene encircling a gold plate, or patera. A cow and her calf, an ibex and the charioteer’s dog run ahead, and another bull, coming up behind the chariot, is about to catch his horn in the chariot wheel and tip out the hunter. Four ibexes parade in the inner circle, their horns surrounding a solar disk. Dating to the 14th century B.C., the plate measures 7.5 inches in diameter.

The great French archaeologist Claude F. A. Schaeffer discovered this plate near the temple of Baal in the Late Bronze Age metropolis of Ugarit. An important seaport since Biblical times, Ugarit (now called Ras Shamra) lies on the Mediterranean Sea north of Beirut, in modern Syria.