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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Element of a Horse Harness
Other Titles
Former Title: Finial
Riding Equipment
Work Type
horse trapping
late 8th-7th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Iron Age
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Cast, lost-wax process
h. 15.5 x w. 7.9 x d. 5.6 cm (6 1/8 x 3 1/8 x 2 3/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 88.34; Sn, 9.48; Pb, 0.84; Zn, 0.012; Fe, 0.03; Ni, 0.06; Ag, 0.09; Sb, 0.43; As, 0.72; 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 green with some blue, red, and black, as well as brown burial accretions. The surfaces are well preserved. The connections between the components are loose, but they do not separate.

The object is made of three components, all of which are solid cast. Their slightly imprecise shapes point to direct modeling of the wax models. The bottom surface of the smallest component is a fracture; part of this fracture surface predates burial, and part is more recent and shows very deep corrosion, up to 4 mm. Pairs of herringbone punch marks on the outside edges of the five discs on all three components are crisp shapes that were punched into the object after casting. Given its significant thickness, the pierced shapes of the largest disc would probably have been cut in the wax model; there are no saw marks in the interior surfaces of these piercings. The top and bottom surfaces of the discs show well-preserved abrasive finishing marks.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Stuart Cary Welch, Cambridge, MA, gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1980.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Stuart Cary Welch
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 object is assembled from three components that are securely fastened to each other yet allow each element to rotate independently of the others. Four stylized birds decorate the outside of the top ring, which also has two bent bars on its interior. The middle section is pierced by an openwork pattern around the flattened disc. The third piece, which is the shortest, mimics the stem of the large ring. All three sections have similar surfaces and decorative elements, such as a raised rope pattern, indicating that they belonged together in antiquity. The decorative and stylistic elements point to early Iron Age Italy, specifically the Villanovan culture.

Other objects broadly similar to this piece are said to be elements of horse harnesses (1).


1. Compare similar objects in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, inv. no. Fr. 2259 c; and the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, Rome, inv. no. 310670. See A. Carandini and R. Capelli, Roma: Romolo, Remo e la fondazione della città, exh. cat. Museo Nazionale Romano, Terme di Diocleziano, Rome (Milan, 2000) 192.

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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