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Archaeology – Antiquity

Here we are dealing with the dawn of humankind. Archaeology, antiquity and excavated object auctions feature objects and works of art from prehistory to antiquity.
These online sales provide objects excavated by archaeologists during digs: minerals, flint objects, ceramic shards, fossils, dinosaur skeletons and such like.
They also provide art from the mediterranean basin. In these auctions, fans of ancient egyptian artefacts can buy engraved stelae, amulets and funerary statuettes sometimes made for a pharaoh; lovers of greek antiquities can tussle it out for ancient amphorae, hydriai, statuary and busts, while collectors of ancient etruscan and roman pieces can find oil lamps and mosaics.
Did you know ? The fossil auction market, previously the haunt of those boned up on natural history, now bids welcome to art lovers. For example, a rare complete mammuthus skeleton discovered in siberia, estimated at €450,000/500,000, recently fetched a spanking € 548,000 at drouot a mammoth sum indeed.


Recommended lots

STUNNING APULIAN RED-FIGURE BELL KRATER - Ca. 400-300 BC. A beautiful red-figure terracotta krater with a broad rim, bell-shaped body flanked by two lug handles, and a pedestalled ring foot. Side A depicts a cloaked female figure holding a patera and a mirror, she seats in fornt of a nude male, who holds a bucket and a wreath. Side B features two youth males clad in chlamydes facing each other. The scenes are separated by vegetal motifs and are framed by a wreath of laurel around the rim, and a geometric frieze below running around the whole of the vessel. Kraters were ancient Greek vessels used for diluting wine with water; they usually stood on a tripod in the dining room during a symposium (drinking party), where wine was mixed. Ancient wine was considerably stronger than its modern counterparts and often had to be mixed with water, honey, and spices. Kraters were made of metal or pottery and were often painted or elaborately ornamented. In Homer's Iliad, the prize offered by Achilles for the footrace at Patroclus's funeral games was a silver krater of Sidonian workmanship. The Greek historian Herodotus describes many enormous and costly kraters dedicated at temples or used in religious ceremonies to hold libations. Cf. Christie's, Live Auction 1915, Antiquities, 6 December 2007, Lot 133. Size: L:305mm / W:300mm ; 2.46kg Provenance: Property of a central London Gallery; formerly in a South English estate collection; acquired in the 1990s from Andre de Munter, Brussels, Belgium; previously in and old European collection.

Estim. 2,500 - 3,500 GBP

EGYPTIAN FAIENCE SHROUD WITH FOUR SONS OF HORUS - Late Period, ca. 664-332 BC. A captivating funerary shroud, crafted with meticulous precision and adorned with a distinctive net pattern composed of shimmering faience beads. At the heart of this intricate design lies a representation of the deceased, rendered with exquisite attention to detail. The light green beads gracefully trace the contours of the face, while the prominent features are brought to life with darker beads. The rich shades of brown, red and beige evoke the visage's broad nose and parted lips, while the eyes and eyebrows give the impression of a serene and peaceful countenance. At the centre of the composition stands a magnificent winged scarab, a symbol that invokes the ancient Egyptian deity of Khepri - the god of creation, rebirth, and the rising sun. In the mythological beliefs of ancient Egypt, Khepri was believed to guide the sun across the sky each day, renewing the world's cycle of life and death. The presence of this winged scarab thus evokes a sense of hope and renewal, even in the face of the ultimate transition from life to death. Below the scarab, four sons of Horus - Imsety, Duamutef, Hapi, and Qebehsenuef - are positioned, serving as protectors of the deceased's internal organs. This representation speaks to the ancient Egyptian belief in the afterlife and the importance of funerary rituals, as it was believed that the preservation of the organs was crucial for the deceased's journey into the next world. This funerary shroud represents a fascinating blend of artistic and religious symbolism, a testament to the enduring legacy of ancient Egyptian culture. Its intricate design, rich symbolism, and craftsmanship make it a true masterpiece of ancient art, one that is sure to captivate and inspire generations to come. Restrung. Size: L:225mm / W:120mm ; 60g Provenance: From the collection of a London gentleman; formerly acquired in early 2000s; previously in 1970s UK collection.

Estim. 600 - 900 GBP

GANDHARA SCHIST PANEL WITH HEAD OF BUDDHA - Ca. 200-300 AD. A stone schist panel featuring a central relief depicting the head of Buddha, showcasing distinctive iconographic elements prevalent in Gandharan art. The round face of the Buddha exhibits a sense of serenity and spiritual grace, with delicately sculpted features that convey a profound sense of inner peace. The small, piercing eyes exemplify the focused gaze of the Buddha, symbolizing his profound wisdom and transcendent insight. The finely rendered nose and small lips contribute to the overall harmony of the facial expression, representing the balanced nature of the enlightened state. Notably, the earlobes are naturally depicted, symbolizing the Buddha's renunciation of worldly attachments and his detachment from material desires. The curly hair, meticulously gathered in a topknot, is a characteristic hairstyle associated with depictions of the Buddha in Gandharan art, signifying his spiritual elevation and attainment. Surrounding the head of the Buddha is a halo, adorned with a radiating arrangement of leafy branches. This halo represents the divine and enlightened aura surrounding the Buddha, emphasizing his transcendent nature and his role as a guiding light for spiritual seekers. Gandhara, situated in present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan, was an important center for Buddhist art and philosophy during the first few centuries AD. The Gandharan style of Buddhist art emerged as a unique fusion of Hellenistic and indigenous artistic traditions, incorporating elements from Greek, Roman, and Indian cultures. The depiction of the Buddha in Gandharan art reflects the syncretic nature of the region, blending Hellenistic sculptural techniques with Indian religious symbolism. These artworks played a significant role in disseminating Buddhist teachings and conveying the ideals of compassion, enlightenment, and the path to liberation. This item comes with a custom-made stand. Size: L:135mm / W:220mm ; 2.01kg Provenance: Private London collection; formerly in Belgium 1970s collection.

Estim. 2,000 - 3,000 GBP