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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Dog Pendant
Work Type
10th-first half 7th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Iran
Iron Age II-III
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze, traces of red ochre
Cast, lost-wax process
1.2 x 0.8 x 1.8 cm (1/2 x 5/16 x 11/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: Main
XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: zinc, iron, nickel

Red ochre or soil deposit
XRF data from Artax 1
Material: red ochre or soil
Elements: iron, calcium, manganese, titanium, potassium

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is dark green with brown burial accretions. The surface is well preserved. The object is a solid cast from a wax model formed directly in the wax. The hole piercing the body is irregular and has rounded edges. There is no evidence that the hole was drilled, and it may have been cast with the object. The small projections at the stomach and back are from flaws in the mold rather than flash lines.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)


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 minute dog pendant has a typical form, with large, erect, rounded ears and a projecting muzzle. The legs are relatively short, and its raised tail curls forward over the back. This tail position is known from similar dog pendants, one of which was excavated from the Luristan site of Surkh-i Dum (1). A fine hole pierces this object through the body behind the front legs.

The long-domesticated dog served ancient cultures worldwide in hunting, warfare, security, and as a companion. Of the copper alloy pendants and figurines derived from Iran, examples in the form of dogs are abundant, although the corpus of excavated pieces is limited. Four dog figurines were found in a tomb at the site of Marlik in northwestern Iran, but these differ stylistically from the Harvard examples in their angular, elongated form and stiff stance (2). Dog figurines have been excavated from Iron Age III (800-750/700 BCE) contexts at the Luristan sanctuary site of Surkh-i Dum (3), which has been interpreted by excavators as having been a site dedicated to a female nature deity where hunters would have offered trinkets in hope or appreciation of success (4). In this context, canine figurines and pendants may represent hunting dogs. The Surkh-i Dum objects are close to the Harvard pieces stylistically, although those in the form of pendants are not pierced but have instead suspension loops. Despite this discrepancy in the method of suspension, which may have varied over time or from site to site, the available evidence favors the designation of the Harvard dog figurines as being from Luristan.


1. See E. de Waele, Bronzes du Luristan et d’Amlash, Publications d’historie de l’art et d’archeologie de l’Université Catholique de Louvain 34 (Louvain-La-Neuve, 1982) 169, nos. 257-59; O. W. Muscarella, “Surkh Dum at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Mini-Report,” Journal of Field Archaeology 8 (1981): 327-59, esp. 345, no. 22; and E. F. Schmidt, M. N. van Loon, and H. H. Curvers, The Holmes Expedition to Luristan (Chicago, 1989) p. 187.a.

2. See E. O. Negahban, Marlik: The Complete Excavation Report, University Museum Monograph 87 (Philadelphia, 1996) 133, nos. 150 and 152, pl. 48.

3. See Schmidt, van Loon, and Curvers 1989 (supra 1) 273-74, pls. 174 and 186-87

4. See ibid., 487-88.

Amy Gansell

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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