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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Openwork Ornament in the Form of an Ibex
Work Type
6th-5th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia
Iron Age
Central Asian
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
3.5 x 4.3 x 1.1 cm (1 3/8 x 1 11/16 x 7/16 in.)
Technical Details

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

Technical Observations: The patina features raised green corrosion products and small areas of black well-preserved surface. The rounded, smooth surfaces on the edges of the front and the soft shapes of the back give the appearance that the wax model was made either directly or by pushing wax into an open mold. The projecting hook on the front and the fastener button on the back appear to be integral with the casting and are intact. Details such as the incised lines in the horns were probably enhanced by cold working.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, David M. Robinson Fund
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 small belt plaque is in the form of a recumbent ibex with its head turned backward and touching its hindquarters. It has a long, ribbed horn that curves over its large oval ear. A raised circle represents the eye, and the mouth is open. Its head, neck, and body are rounded and somewhat naturalistic. The legs are folded under it, and the hooves, which connect, are clearly modeled. A curved element connects the neck of the ibex to its foreleg; there is a conical spike at the midpoint of this curve. Further details are obscured under the thick patina. The small plaque has irregular cutouts between the ear and horn, jaw and back, folded foreleg, body and hind leg, and between the neck and the curved element. On the back, at the opposite end from the spike, is a shaft with a flattened disk attached (0.5 cm high) for attachment. The reverse is otherwise flat and featureless, although the surface of the preserved patina is very rough.

The motif of the recumbent ibex, deer, or other animal is common in Central Asian decorative arts (1).


1. See E. C. Bunker, Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes: The Eugene V. Thaw and Other New York Collections (New York, 2002) 40-41, 64-69, 120, and 158-59; nos. 1-2, 31-35, 91, and 135. Compare Treasures of the Eurasian Steppes: Animal Art from 800 BC to 200 AD, Ariadne Galleries (New York, 1998) 31 and 58, nos. 20 and 57. For a similar motif done in a different style, see U. Jäger and S. Kansteiner, Ancient Metalwork from the Black Sea to China in the Borowski Collection (Ruhpolding, 2011) 75-76, nos. 103-104 (Northern China and Mongolia/Siberia, fourth to second centuries BCE)

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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