Lapis lazuli lion from the Elamite Empire – estimate €11,000 at Hermann Historica on May 26.

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One of the attractions on the first day is also one of the oldest pieces in the sale. It is a small carved lion, just over 2in (6cm) high, made of lapis lazuli. It can be dated to the 3rd millennium BC and is an artefact from the early phase of the Elamite Empire, which lasted until the 7th century BC.

The territory peopled by the Elamites covered parts of modern-day Iran and southern Iraq and the rare Elamite artefacts that have survived until today are witness to the advanced capabilities of the craftsmen involved and the wealth of their patrons.

The lion has come from a German private collection offered by the son of the collector and is expected to bring €11,000.