Urartian Bronze Votive Plaques, c. 860-590 BC

A group of two rectangular plaques or lamellae with rounded corners, comprising: the smaller with incised image of a wolf with winged solar disc above; the larger with bearded and robed profile figure with hands extended towards a rectangular object offered by a smaller figure, sunburst above.

Urartu was ancient kingdom, situated along the river Araxes (modern Aras), the Upper Tigris and the Upper Euphrates. The original name of Urartu was Biainele; its capital the rock fortress Tušpa (modern Van in Armenia). In the bible, Urartu was known as the kingdom of Ararat.

Urartians were skilled metalworkers and spoke a language that was related to Hurrian (a language that has no other known connections). They adapted the Assyrian cuneiform script for their own purposes, though most inscriptions refer to royal construction activity. Most of the information about Urartu comes from historic Assyrian sources.

Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser I (c. 1274 BC) first mention Uruartri as one of the states of Nairi – a loose confederation of small kingdoms and tribal states in the 13th to 11th centuries BC, which he conquered.

Urartu re-emerged in Assyrian inscriptions in the 9th century BC as a powerful northern rival of Assyria. The tribes became a unified kingdom under the Uratian King Aramu (c. 860 – 843 BC) and it reached its peak of power in the 9th and 8th centuries. Urartu was eventually conquered by the Medes in the early 6th century BC and the Urartian Kingdom was eventually replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty.