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A dark grey spike.

One third of the spike, on the left, seems to be a handle. At the end on the left it is a flat round tube for a smaller stretch, before being shaped into several flat faces, the tube becoming geometric. Continuing to the right there is a raised ring before the geometric faces give way to a flat, tapered point that takes up two thirds of the length. There are no other details or decorations.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Sauroter (Spear-Foot)
Weapons and Ammunition
Work Type
spear foot
late 5th-first half 4th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Macedonia, Olynthos (Macedonia)
Classical period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
28.4 x 2.3 cm (11 3/16 x 7/8 in.)
Technical Details

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

Technical Observations: The patina is green with spots of red. Brown burial accretions are present, but the surface is well preserved overall. The area of the inscription is a little browner in color and appears to have been rubbed or otherwise cleaned

The cone-shaped hollow of the socket extends in the interior to within 4 cm of the tip of the spear-foot. The interior walls show some irregularity, this is not due to slush casting wax into a mold, which would result in greater irregularity and would make it difficult to keep the interior hollow. It is possible that wax was modeled directly over a prepared core. The interior characteristics and the very thin walls at the opening support this. The point section is four-sided; the socket section is ten-sided. The transitions to the rounded areas of the exterior are very precise, and although made in the wax, was probably further cleaned up in the metal after casting. In spite of the slight alteration of the patina in the area of the inscription, the punched incisions forming the letters appear under magnification to predate the corrosion products.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: in Greek:
    [of the Olynthians]


Recorded Ownership History
David M. Robinson, Baltimore, MD, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1960.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of David M. Robinson
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 spear-butt or sauroter consists of a tapering four-sided point that rises from a cylindrical socket. The juncture between the socket and the point has a torus-shaped molding flanked by a minute fillet on either side. The sauroter was attached to the spear shaft to allow the spear shaft to be rammed into the ground so that it could be held fast by the warrior wielding it against the onrush of the enemy. If the shaft of the spear were broken, the sauroter could also be used as an effective weapon in its own right. Very close parallels for this sauroter were found at Olympia (1).

The socket itself consists of a plain band at the shaft end of the object, from which spring ten tapering facets that articulate the socket shaft. The point rises out of four inset corners, each one with a central carination that rises to the edge formed by the intersection of two sides of the point. At the rear edge of each side, slightly concave facets taper toward each other, meeting in a point connected with the torus molding by a short carination.

An inscription of twelve letters, reading from left to right, is incised along the bottom of the point near its tip. It reads ΤΩΝ ΟΛΥΝΘΟΘΕΝ (of the Olynthians). The two thetas consist of a circle with a central dot. If genuine, the inscription would indicate that the object had formed part of a dedication of weapons, perhaps part of a trophy, erected at a sanctuary. This could have been at Olympia, or, more likely, a costly object dedicated at a Macedonian sanctuary center such as Dion. The condition is excellent, except for two scrapes on the opposite side from the inscription.


1. See H. Baitinger, Die Angriffswaffen aus Olympia, Olympische Forschungen 29 (Berlin, 2001) 71-72 and 189-94; nos. 953-54, 961-64, 976, and 985; pls. 74.a-b and 75.a-c.

David G. Mitten

Publication History

  • Fogg Art Museum, The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities, A Special Exhibition, exh. cat., Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, 1961), p. 30, no. 242.
  • John Bodel and Stephen Tracy, Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A checklist, American Academy in Rome (New York, 1997), p. 47.
  • [Reproduction Only], Persephone, (Spring 2005)., p. 10.

Exhibition History

  • The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities: A Special Exhibition, Fogg Art Museum, 05/01/1961 - 09/20/1961
  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/22/2016 - 01/08/2017

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at