Northern Mesopotamia / Door lintel with lion-griffins and vase with lotus leaf / 2nd-3rd century A.D.Northern Mesopotamia
Door lintel with lion-griffins and vase with lotus leaf
2nd-3rd century A.D.

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Middle Eastern; Mesopotamian
Creator Name-CRT: Northern Mesopotamia
Title: Door lintel with lion-griffins and vase with lotus leaf
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 100
Creation End Date: 299
Creation Date: 2nd-3rd century A.D.
Creation Place: Northern Mesopotamia
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Limestone
Dimensions: L. 67.8 in. (172.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 32.145a, b
Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1932

Under Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.), the Greeks put an end to Achaemenid power, and an era of strong Greek influence in the ancient Near East began. Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis fell to the armies of Alexander in 331 B.C., and his power extended as far as India. But in 323 B.C., while still a young man, Alexander became ill and died in Babylon. Deprived of his leadership, the empire was split by a struggle for power among his successors, the Seleucid kings.

The Parthian dynasty, originally from the north and east of Iran, established supremacy in the Near East in the second century B.C., after the disintegration of Alexander's empire and collapse of his successors. Ctesiphon, the capital, was situated on the bank of the Tigris River opposite the earlier Greek settlement of Seleucia. The border between the western empire of Rome and the Parthian lands in the east ran between the central and northern Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Hatra in northern Iraq, southwest of modern Mosul, was a major trading city heavily fortified against Roman attack and populated by a mixture of peoples, Parthians as well as Arabs and the inhabitants of Syria.

Once part of a decorated doorway in the north hall of the so-called Main Palace at Hatra, this lintel stone was originally positioned so that the carved surface faced the floor. The two fantastic creatures have feline bodies, long ears, wings, and crest feathers-a combination of animal and bird elements typical of Near Eastern lion-griffins. Between the two figures is a vase containing a stylized lotus leaf and two tendrils. The naturalistic modeling of the creatures' bodies and the form of the central vase reflect Roman influence. However, the absolute symmetry of the composition, the pronounced simplification of the plant forms, and the lion-griffin motif are all characteristic of the Near East.

AMICA ID: MMA_.32.145a,b
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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