Urartian Silver Pectoral, c. 7th Century BC
The pectoral is decorated with sirens walking in profile, five in the upper register and seven in the lower, interspersed with palmettes (possibly representing a sacred tree), each frieze with a raised band above and below, the panel bordered above and below with a punched double-triangle motif, the curved panels and each end decorated with a profile figure of a winged genius (benevolent spirit) in the ‘Knielauf’ (kneeling-running) position, each holding a situla (a bucket-like vessel associated with purification rituals in and around the ancient Mesopotamian region).
The region of Urartu (map) corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands. The Urartian Kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but was conquered by Media in the early 6th century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms. Urartu is cognate with the Biblical Ararat.