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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Man Riding a Horse
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
early to mid 1st millennium BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Levant
Iron Age
Syro-Hittite or Phoenician
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded copper
Cast, lost-wax process
10.6 x 8.4 x 2.9 cm (4 3/16 x 3 5/16 x 1 1/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Copper:
Cu, 86.82; Sn, 1.62; Pb, 10.45; Zn, less than 0.002; Fe, 0.22; Ni, 0.02; Ag, 0.01; Sb, less than 0.05; As, 0.87; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.01; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is black with spots of red and green. Light brown burial accretions are also present. There is a crack at the left elbow, but the sculpture is stable. The surface is rough due to uneven removal of corrosion products. The wax model for this casting was made directly with the hands from a rolled section of wax. A tool may have been used for details such as the face and hair, but all of this work appears to have been done in the wax model.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Francis H. Burr Memorial 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
A stiffly posed rider perches on the back of a horse, which has a thin mane and raised forelock. The bearded man appears to have a standing posture, with his feet positioned perfectly flat. The precariousness of his position is counterbalanced by the reins that extend diagonally from the horse’s head to his waist-high hands. His short hair, rendered by radiating straight incisions, is bound by a deeply incised circlet, which may have originally been inlaid with another metal. His face is marked by slightly bulging eyes, a large nose, small mouth, and receding chin. The small ears, bulging eyes, and forelock of the horse’s head are executed by raised lumps. The horse’s body, legs, and tail, as well as the man’s arms, consist of simple tubular metal rods. These are given vitality through their expressive bending, as seen in the curve of the front legs, which makes the horse appear as if he were straining forward, while the man’s arms create a rounded form as he pulls up on the reins. The piece is unusual, with no exact known parallels. G. Hanfmann compares it to several bronze and terracotta specimens, placing it in the Near East in the late second or early first millennium BCE (1). He notes, however, that bronze representations of horsemen are quite rare in the Near East. Rather, one finds them in growing numbers in Etruscan and Iberian locales, and they are perhaps to be associated with the Phoenician expansion in the Mediterranean of the first millennium BCE (2).


1. G. M. A. Hanfmann, “A Near Eastern Horseman,” Syria 38.3-4 (1961): 243-55.

2. For Etruscan bronze horsemen, see for example G. Zampiere and B. Lavarone, eds., Bronzi antichi del Museo Archeologico di Padova, exh. cat. (Rome, 2000) nos. 33-53. For Iberian bronzes, see for example M. Tarradell, Iberian Art (New York, 1978) nos. 38-39, 73-74, and 76-77.

Marian Feldman

Publication History

  • George M. A. Hanfmann, "Acquisitions of the Fogg Art Museum: Sculpture and Figurines", American Journal of Archaeology (1954), Vol. 58, No. 3, 223-229, p. 224.
  • George M. A. Hanfmann, "A Near Eastern Horseman", Syria (1961), Vol. 38, No. 3-4, 243-255, figs. 1-3.
  • David Gordon Mitten and Amy Brauer, Dialogue with Antiquity, The Curatorial Achievement of George M. A. Hanfmann, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1982), p. 16, no. 66.

Exhibition History

  • Dialogue with Antiquity: The Curatorial Achievement of George M.A. Hanfmann, Fogg Art Museum, 05/07/1982 - 06/26/1982

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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