Phoenix Ancient Art: Winged griffin flanking a sacred tree, Phoenician, ca. 8th century B.C., ivory, H 10.6 cm
“As for the fascination, in addition to aesthetics it has great deal to do with the perception that Near Eastern art is very, very old, older in fact than every other form of art. This belief, according to Hicham Aboutaam, co-owner of‘ Phoenix Ancient Art in New York and Geneva, exists because most of the sites from the ancient Near East that we know of today were referred to in the Old Testament—Ur, Sumer, Babylon, Nineveh, not to mention kings such as Nebuchadnezzar. Because the Old Testament is so very old, we consider art from that period as very old as well.’ Aboutaam points out that this perception that is not, in fact, correct. Cycladic art is older, and Egyptian culture older still.”
Amy Page, “Neolithic to Nebuchadnazzer,” Art & Antiques, November, 2010
Brothers Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam co-own Phoenix Ancient Art, a collection of beautiful and rare antiques. Amongst their selection is an ancient Egyptian amulet in the shape of the goddess Bastet from the 3rd Intermediary Period, circa 8th-7th Century B.C. Standing almost 6 cm tall, this figurine is very delicate. Despite its fragility, the amulet is in amazing condition; it is completely intact, and still retains its original bright blue color. The figure is shaped as the human body of a thin woman with a feline head.
Bastet is the more gentle personification of the dangerous goddess Sekhmet, who appears as both a cat and a lion in Egyptian tradition. Figurines of Sekhmet have the rounded ears of a lion, while those of Bastet feature the pointed ears of a cat.
Bastet was believed to be the patron of the doctors, and protector of women and children during childbirth.
In recent news around the world, the AP reports that four clay coffins estimated to be 2000 years old were unearthed in Cyprus. The coffins, untouched by grave robbers, were said to date from the Hellenistic to early Roman period, from between 300 B.C. to 100 A.D. In addition, other items found at the site included human skeletal remains, terra cotta urns and more. All of these were discovered while workers were fixing a sidewalk in a resort location.
One of the more recent arrivals at Phoenix Ancient Art, owned by Hicham Aboutaam and Ali Aboutaam, is the Egyptian Amulet of the Goddess Bastet. This amulet is in an excellent state of preservation and is from the 3rd Intermediary Period, around the 8th-7th century B.C. The amulet is complete and has retained its original intense blue color.
The goddess’s throne was made in a technique that was very popular at the end of the New Kingdom and in the beginning of the first millennium B.C. The faience was first cast and the openwork was then created by cutting away unwanted elements with a knife. While this amulet is quite small in size, the work’s quality is excellent and a number of the anatomical details have been rendered with great precision.
The goddess Bastet was quite popular at the end of the Bronze Age and, as was quite common in Egyptian art, the figure has the body of a human and the head of an animal. She is considered a mild mannered, sweeter version of the dangerous goddess Sekhmet. She is the patron of the priestly doctors of Sekhmet and she is the rpotector of women in childbirth and children.
The 21st edition of the International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show at the Park Avenue Armory wrapped up in October. This year’s show included 65 exhibitors and a new energy for admiring and purchasing antiques and other art that had not been seen in recent years.
Phoenix Ancient Art, owned by Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam, displayed a breathtaking torso of a nude male youth in Roman black basalt. The piece dates from the late 1st century AD and was priced at $8 million. There was certainly interest in the piece, both from collectors and museums, according to gallery co-owner Hicham Aboutaam.
Other art dealers included Apter-Fredericks of London, London book dealer Bernard Shapero, New York antiques dealer Ariadne Galleries and many others. The show was a great success and was enjoyed by all present.
Certainly, antiques come from many time periods and many countries. Phoenix Ancient Art offers a vast selection of antiques from many locations and time periods. One interesting time period for which Hicham Aboutaam and Ali Aboutaam offer antiques is the Early Greek period.
What are Early Greek antiques? This selection includes art that was produced by two main civilizations of the Bronze Age. These included the Minoans on Crete and the Mycenaeans on mainland Greece. The main antiques that come from these cultures include fine pottery from the Mycenaeans and pottery with aquatic themes and gems from the Minoans.
When buying antiquities, many people think of acquiring large objects that they can put on display, such as pottery and sculptures. Other smaller types of antiquities, however, are very interesting, both as investments and as treasures to pass on to future generations.
This beautiful bronze belt buckle, for example, that is for sale at Phoenix Ancient Art, is a great representation of Visigothic Art. The many engraved animal motifs are typical of the art of the migration period, ca. 300-600AD. The lyre-shaped of the belt buckles, however, was a form made originally by Byzantine artisans and adapted by the Germanic tribes.
Ever since he was a child Hicham Aboutaam was fascinated with antiquities. He was especially enthralled with ancient cylinder seals and scarabs, and to this day Aboutaam is actively acquiring miniature masterpieces for his own personal collection.
Today, as one of the owners of Phoenix Ancient Art, Hicham is constantly on the lookout for remarkable art objects which are not only of great beauty and magnificent workmanship, but also of historical interest.
During his university studies Hicham Aboutaam focused his learning on archeology and art history. Upon finishing university Aboutaam went on to join his father and brother Ali running their successful dealership in antiquities. From that time until today the brothers Aboutaam have been relentlessly building their reputation as ancient art dealers with impeccable taste and exemplary judgment.
If you find yourself in Geneva, then you have to take the time to visit Phoenix Ancient Art’s gallery in the Old Town at 6 rue Verdaine. (If you live in New York then you can also visit Phoenix in NewYork City, but it is always worthwhile to take in the display in Geneva even if you are a regular at the New York gallery.)
Phoenix Ancient Art, managed by Hicham Aboutaam and his brother Ali, is a world leader in the antiquities field. As leading galleries with tremendous displays on all the ancient cultures and civilizations, Phoenix and Aboutaam have the opportunity of dealing with thousands of years of human history and civilization. Whether you are a first time visitor with no background in ancient art, or whether you are a seasoned professional, Phoenix Ancient will wow you and teach you something about the ancient world. Phoenix Ancient Art and Hicham Aboutaam are top art dealers who specialize in antiquities, and in fact, they are considered the world leaders in antiquity art dealership.