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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Weapons and Ammunition
Work Type
9th-8th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Geometric period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast, lost-wax process
l. 16 x w. 6 x diam. (of socket) 3.6 cm (6 5/16 x 2 3/8 x 1 7/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Copper:
Cu, 99.63; Sn, 0.25; Pb, 0.16; Zn, 0.015; Fe, less than 0.01; Ni, 0.07; Ag, 0.05; Sb, 0.07; As, less than 0.10; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.005; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is a brown and black surface that looks as if it has been stripped. The edges of the spearhead show losses and deformations. The socket has been deformed and flattened, with cracking of the metal along one side. Another crack is present near the tip of the spearhead where the metal is deformed.

The spearhead was cast and then further worked, probably with annealing, to shape the tip and edges.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)


Recorded Ownership History
Miss Elizabeth Gaskell Norton, Boston, MA and Miss Margaret Norton, Cambridge, MA (by 1920), gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1920.

Note: The Misses Norton were daughters of Charles Elliot Norton (1827-1908).

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of the Misses Norton
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 spearhead has a hollow socket that extends nearly to the tip. Part of the socket has been bent inward. The edges of the two fins of the spearhead have been bent back, and there is a sizeable gap on one edge. A crack or fissure transverses the socket near the tip. The original edge of the socket has been broken away. There is a deep crack, extending up the edge of the socket toward the point. The entire spearhead has been bent into a curving shape. Its condition suggests that it was badly damaged either by use or perhaps in an attempt to melt it for reuse as scrap metal. It could also conceivably have been deliberately damaged to prevent reuse and offered as a grave gift or a dedication. The date of the object is uncertain, but it could be Late Bronze Age or as late as the Archaic period (1).


1. Compare M. Comstock and C. C. Vermeule, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Bronzes in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Greenwich, CT, 1971) 391, nos. 535-37 (said to be from Macedonia), although these spearheads have longer sockets than the Harvard piece. Also see H. Baitinger, Die Angriffswaffen aus Olympia, Olympische Forschungen 29 (Berlin, 2001) 151, nos. 563 and 580, pls. 19-20. For a general discussion of the bronze spearheads from Olympia, see ibid., 33-42. In general, see R. A. J. Avila, Bronzene Lanzen- und Pfeilspitzer der griechischen Spätbronzezeit, Prähistorische Bronzefunde 5.1 (Munich, 1983) 76-77, nos. 160A-H, pl. 21. Compare also M. Garsson, ed., Une histoire d’alliage: Les bronzes antiques des réserves du Musée d’archéologie méditerranéenne, exh. cat. (Marseille, 2004) 30, no. 9 (attributed to central Italy, ninth to eighth centuries BCE, although this example is somewhat longer than others at 28.6 cm x 4.5 cm)

David G. Mitten

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/25/2015 - 01/03/2016

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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