Phoenician Gold Ceremonial Fenestrated Axehead

Near Eastern · early 2nd millennium B.C.




W: 10.4 cm

H: 7.2 cm





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This magnificent ceremonial weapon is made of solid gold, cast in a bivalve stone mold. The handle was inserted into the socket, whose inner wall incorporates a net pattern made up of thin gold strips arranged in a diagonal criss-cross pattern. The semi-ellipsoidal blade tapers gradually to the cutting edge, which is not completely sharp. There are two large openwork ovals adjoining the socket; looking like glasses or small windows, this type of tool is called a “fenestrated axe”. The outline is bordered with a thick lip, while a straight horizontal rib separates the blade into two halves.

This is an extraordinary work of art, not only for its state of preservation and the use of gold, but also be-cause of its shape and the pure elegant proportions that harmoniously combine the linear elements (net pattern of the eye, central rib) with the rounded lines of the silhouette and central openings. This formal clarity is perfectly pleas-ing to modern aesthetics.


Intact; inner net pattern slightly deformed; some deposits inside


Art market, prior to 1985;

S. Aboutaam private collection, acquired circa 1985; thence by descent.


Phoenix Ancient Art 2020 – 39, Geneva – New York, 2020, no. 4


On gold axes from the Temple of the Obelisks, see:

Liban: L’autre rive, Paris, 1999, pp. 54-59.

PARROT A. et al., Les Phéniciens, Paris, 1977, pp. 64-68.

SEEDEN H., The Standing Armed Figurines in the Levant, PBF I, Berlin, 1980, pl. 129.

On bronze examples, see:

CALMEYER P., Datierbare Bronzen aus Luristan und Kirmanshah, Berlin, 1969, pp. 44-46.

MAXWELL-HYSLOP K.R., Western Asiatic Shaft-Hole Axes, in Iraq, 11, 1949, pp. 119 ff., type R3-4, pl. 26. MUSCARELLA O.W., Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989, pp. 386-387, nos. 510- 511 (with bibliography). NEGBI O., Canaanite Gods in Metal, Tel Aviv, 1976, nos. 49, 51, 145, 179 (warriors armed with fenestrated axes).