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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Knobbed Rod Surmounted by Seated Figure
Work Type
6th-5th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Northern Greece
Archaic period to Classical
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast, lost-wax process
8.3 x 1.5 cm (3 1/4 x 9/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 91.62; Sn, 6.54; Pb, 0.94; Zn, 0.03; Fe, 0.07; Ni, 0.05; Ag, 0.06; Sb, 0.18; As, 0.49; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.03; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is dark green with brown burial accretions in the crevices. Red corrosion products are visible in some areas. The rod is bent slightly, about 10 degrees. Some parts of the surface are well preserved, but slightly rough corrosion layers cover most areas

The simple shapes and irregularities give the impression that the wax model for the object was shaped directly rather than cast in a mold. The single smaller, button appears to be the result of a casting flaw.

Henry Lie

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, David M. Robinson Fund
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 solid-cast bronze figurine is of a type formerly known as “bottle stoppers” (Kannenverschlüsse), now identified as a variety of decorative belt pendant (1). The Harvard example features a monkey-like seated figure holding an indeterminate object to its mouth, while beneath it descends a rod decorated with vertical rows of knobs or buttons. The highly stylized figure has tightly contracted knees and no feet. The elbows and knees are counterpoised. The right knee is slightly higher, and the right forearm slightly shorter, than their counterparts on the left. The forearms rise at an oblique angle to the level of the face, where the hands hold an object directly against the end of a long snout. The back of the head is flat and wide, with two round protruding ears. The shapes from the back of the head to the hands are two confronting triangles, which meet at the juncture of the snout and the object held against it. The entire back from shoulders to buttocks is also constructed as two confronting triangles that meet at the mid-back. The top of the figure from head to hands and the bottom from hips to the ends of the legs are perfectly straight, parallel lines. The vertical line from the head to the buttocks is also perfectly straight, so that when viewed from the side the figure has the shape of an openwork rectangle. From the front, the legs and arms taper inward to the hands, framing the long sides of an isosceles triangle.

The figure sits on a platform or base that is 1.0 cm square. The base is supported by a short column whose lower end flares out into a flat disc. Beneath the disc hangs a rod decorated with four vertical rows of knobs, four in each row, sixteen altogether. A single knob caps the bottom of the rod. There is a modern hole in the base. The second knob from the bottom, in the row of knobs beneath the left hip of the figure, is very small due to a casting fault. The other knobs are similar but not uniform in size. Considerable corroded material adheres between all the knobs and the rod from which they extend. The entire piece is smoothly finished. The patina is greenish black with some lighter green patches. A close parallel to this piece is in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel (2).


1. For examples, see U. Jantzen, “Geometrische Kannenverschlüsse,” Archäologischer Anzeiger (1953): 56-67, esp. 56-57; A. Zhaneta, “Les Tumuli de Kuç i zi,” Iliria 6 (1976): 165-233, esp. 207; K. Kilian, “Trachtzubehör der Eisenzeit zwischen Ägäis und Adria,” Prähistorische Zeitschrift 50 (1975): 9-140, esp. 114-15, pl. 96; M. Vickers, “Some Early Iron Age Bronzes from Macedonia,” in Ancient Macedonia 2: Papers Read at the Second International Symposium Held in Thessaloniki, 17-24 August 1973, Institute for Balkan Studies 155 (Thessaloniki, 1977) 17-31; I. Kilian-Dirlmeier, Anhänger in Griechenland von der mykenischen bis zur spätgeometrischen Zeit, Prähistorische Bronzefunde 11.2 (Munich, 1979) 194-99, pls. 61-72 (general discussion) and pl. 107 (distribution map); A. P. Kozloff and D. G. Mitten, The Gods Delight: The Human Figure in Classical Bronze, exh. cat., The Cleveland Museum of Art; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Cleveland, 1988) 48-51; S. Langdon, “From Monkey to Man: The Evolution of a Geometric Sculptural Type,” American Journal of Archaeology 94 (1990): 407-24; Tiere und Mischwesen 2, J.-D. Cahn AG Catalog 13 (Basel, 2001) lot 24; and J. Christiansen, Greece in the Geometric Period, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Copenhagen, 1992) no. 21 (inv. no. 3287).

2. U. Höckmann, Antike Bronzen: Kataloge der Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel (Kassel, 1972) 4 and 16, no. 6 (Br. 710), pl. 1; Kilian-Dirlmeier 1979 (supra 1) 196, no. 1180, pl. 63.

Tamsey Andrews and David G. Mitten

Publication History

  • Imma Kilian-Dirlmeier, Anhänger in Griechenland von der mykenischen bis zur spätgeometrischen Zeit, C. H. Beck (Munich, 1979), p. 196, no. 1182, pl. 63.

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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