Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Replica of Mt. Argaeus
Work Type
1st-5th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
5 cm (1 15/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: iron
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is a mottled dark brown and cupritic red with light green specks. The surface has been smoothed by cleaning, which has cut through the corrosion. Some tan burial or investment material is stuck on the inner surface and in recesses. The tip of the eagle’s beak is missing.

The object was cast in one piece by the lost-wax process. The eagle is solid, while the mountain is hollow and of fairly uniform thickness except at the top, where the interior shape is more simplified and does not reflect the two smaller peaks on the exterior. This object was probably a direct cast, although some of the bumps on the inner surface look soft and waxy, which would suggest an indirect technique. The decorative texturing was produced mainly in the metal with pointed and flat punches. The four indentations on the bottom rim are located symmetrically, which suggests that they are intentional, although two of them seem to have been augmented by casting flaws or corrosion.

Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2011)

Mr. Frank L. Kovacs III, San Mateo, CA, (by 1988), gift; to The Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1988-2012), transfer; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2012.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University, Gift of Frank L. Kovacs
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This statuette is a representation of Mt. Argaeus (modern Erciyas Dağı in central Turkey), the recipient of cult veneration in the city of Caesarea, in ancient Cappadoccia, which bordered the mountain. The mountain’s peaks and foothills are represented, along with an eagle seated at the summit. The eagle sits frontally on the central peak of the mountain, its wings down. Eyes, beak, and wings are modeled; feathers are indicated by incised lines. The eagle’s feet are not represented; its body merges into the central peak of the mountain, with a series of chevrons or a palmette-shaped decoration on the front of the body/peak (1). The mountain itself has a high central peak, which is flanked by two lower peaks. Between the central and lower peaks are incised curved bands with stippled dots on the interior. At the bottom, three foothills are represented by four incised semicircles; there is stippling within and above the semicircles to indicate topography. The back of the mountain is smooth and does not have any decoration.

This cult image of Mt. Argaeus could have served as a votive or as part of the private shrine (lararium) of a house (2). Other mountains are known to have received veneration, such as Mt. Gerizim at Neapolis in Palestine. These mountains often appeared on the coinage of the cities, becoming the symbol of each city.


1. Similar bronze statuettes of the mountain with an eagle on top have been published by P. Weiss, “Argaios/Erciyas Dağı: Heiliger Berg Kappadokiens Monumente und Ikonographie,” Jahrbuch für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte 35 (1985): 21-48, esp. 27-29, nos. 1-3, pl. 8. Compare also a steelyard weight in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, inv. no. 1972.79, which is in the form of Mt. Argaeus with a bust of Helios on top; see M. True and C. Vermeule, “Ancient Art in Metal and Semiprecious Stone,” Boston Museum Bulletin 72.368 (1974): 117-35, esp. 126, no. 7.

2. Compare representations of the mountain on the coinage of Caesarea Mazaca that show a cult depiction of the mountain within the edifice of a temple (Severus Alexander, 224 CE; SNG Cop 289/Syd 544).

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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