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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Molded Collar
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Axe Head Fragment
Work Type
unidentified item
10th-8th century BCE or modern
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Luristan (Iran)
Iron Age
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast, lost-wax process
1.4 x 2.7 x 2.7 cm (9/16 x 1 1/16 x 1 1/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 88.09; Sn, 11.4; Pb, less than 0.04; Zn, 0.003; Fe, 0.16; Ni, 0.02; Ag, 0.02; Sb, 0.11; As, 0.17; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.018; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is a smooth metallic brown, red, and green beneath some patches of green, gray, and brown corrosion and encrustation. The lower edge has been cut. The fragment was probably made by the lost-wax process. The interior is quite porous. The top surface shows tool marks from rough finishing.

This fragment was previously joined to 1992.256.137.A.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)


Recorded Ownership History
Louise M. and George E. Bates, Camden, ME (by 1971-1992), gift; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 1992.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Louise M. and George E. Bates
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 axe-head, currently made up of a blade, shaft hole, and a molded head decoration, was discovered to be a pastiche during examination in conservation. A molded collar, 1992.256.137.B, has also been added to the top of the shaft; it is unclear whether this element is modern or if it may have belonged to another ancient object. The molded collar was removed, along with some of the filling covering the joins on the axe-head.

While the form and iconographic style of this axe-head are related to the Luristan bronze tradition, no figural parallels are known among axe-heads. Shaft-hole axe-heads are primarily associated with third-millennium BCE Mesopotamian and Iranian contexts, but these examples lack figural embellishment (1). The janiform heads adorning this object are of the same style seen on early first-millennium BCE Luristan tubes and finials, but they are not attested on axes (2). The heads on the Harvard axe-head are very worn and broken off at the top, and it is possible that they are also modern additions; ICP-MS/AAA analysis of the three currently joined components indicates that the decorative heads have a different alloy (bronze) than the blade or the shaft (both arsenical copper). A small linear design is etched on one side of the blade.


1. See P. R. S. Moorey, Catalogue of the Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1971) 39-41, nos. 4-5, fig. 3; F. Tallon, Métallurgie susienne 1: De la fondation de Suse au XVIIIe siècle avant J.-C. (Paris, 1987) 73-75, nos. 21-35, pls. 139-42; and C. L. Woolley, Ur Excavations II: The Royal Cemetery (Philadelphia, 1934) 305-306, pl. 223.

2. See Moorey 1971 (supra 1) 164-65, nos. 188-89, pls. 37-38; and O. W. Muscarella, Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1988) 137 and 151-52, nos. 240-42.

Amy Gansell

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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