Babylonian Stone weight in the shape of a Grasshopper
Period: Babylonian, 18th-17th Century B.C.
Dimensions: Lenght: 8.4 cm
Ex-Swiss private collection, 1980’s.
Excellent state of conservation
This haematite weight in the shape of a grasshopper may be unique. The insect is represented in a very realistic way while at the same time showing great abstraction and ?nely modeled volumes. It holds its legs against the length of its body; the hairs are incised and the eyes cross-hatched. Two long grooved wings cover and extend past the body. This piece can be linked to the Babylonian production of zoomorphic haematite weights that display a great diversity of shapes: ducks and frogs, but also shells, wild boars or baboons. The duck is the most common type of weight. The Louvre has a whole set of these weights, while eight of them representing various animals are now in the Ortiz collection. Other weights of this period are on display in the British Museum and in the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul.
In Egypt, grasshoppers are regularly represented. However, Egyptian craftsmen never use haematite, whereas this gray and smooth stone is frequently utilized in Babylonian production. This insect has a long tradition in Near Eastern World: for example, it is considered a severe crop destroyer, as attested to in the episode of the Seven Plagues of Egypt. It is also commonly consumed as a dish in the form of skewers (see King Sennacherib’s Palace relief at Nineveh). It also appears on the cylindrical seals and in the production of small chalcedony Assyrian ?gurines between the 6th and the 3rd century B.C.
BRENTJES B., Zur Typology, Datierung und Ableitung der Zikaden?beln, in Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wit–
tenberg, 5, 1953-1954, pp. 901-914.
In Pursuit of the Absolute,Art of the Ancient World,The George Ortiz Collection, 1994, Bern, n. 18.
SOUTZO M.C., Etude des Monuments pondéraux de Suse, Chalon-sur-Saône.