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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Schematic Votive Statuette
Work Type
sculpture, statuette
late 5th-2nd century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Hispania
Iron Age
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
6 x 1.1 cm (2 3/8 x 7/16 in.)
Technical Details

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

Technical Observations: The patina consists of a reddish brown crust with green showing through in a few places. 1992.256.103 is more pitted than 1992.256.101 or 1992.256.102 and has more green corrosion. The figures are intact and were cast solid. 1992.256.103 is quite flat and may have been formed by hammering. It was possibly hot worked. The figures have few surface details.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)


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
A highly abstract head surmounts a flat rectangular shaft representing this schematic figure’s body (1). The neck and shoulders of the figure are summarily indicated, as are the eyes and nose. The base of the rectangular body protrudes slightly at a right angle to indicate the feet.

Thousands of small, anthropomorphic copper alloy statuettes and anatomical votives have been recovered from remote sanctuary sites in south-central Spain, particularly Collado de los Jardines and Castellar de Santisteban, but it is not certain to which god or gods they were dedicated (2). Many of the statuettes depict individuals, some of whom are represented in poses of prayer or offering (3). Some are very abstract and schematically rendered, while others wear identifiable contemporary clothing (4). Abstract votive figures like this example begin to be produced in the fourth century BCE to supply an ever-increasing number of worshippers with relatively inexpensive offerings. Although hundreds of such figures have been found, each has individual workmanship, and no two are identical.


1. Compare R. Lantier, Bronzes votifs ibériques (Paris, 1935) nos. 168, 185, 190-92, and 316, pls. 14 and 24; L. Prados Torreira, Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992) 236, nos. 775-82; and F. Álvarez-Ossorio, Catalogo de los exvotos de bronce, ibericos, Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1941) pl. 86 (bottom two rows) and pl. 87 (top two rows).

2. See F. Álvarez-Ossorio, Bronces ibéricos o hispánicos del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Madrid, 1935) 20-27; id. 1941 (supra 1); L. Prados Torreira, “Los exvotos anatomicos del santuario iberico de Collado de los Jardines (Sta. Elena, Jaén),” Trabajos de prehistoria 48 (1991): 313-32; ead. 1992 (supra 1); ead., “Los santuarios ibéricos: Apuntes para el desarrollo de una arqueología del culto,” Trabajos de prehistoria 51.1 (1994): 127-40; and G. Nicolini et al., El santuario ibérico de Castellar, Jaén: Intervenciones arqueológicas 1966-1991 (Seville, 2004) 160-64.

3. For discussions of the statuettes’ poses and gestures, see G. Nicolini, “Gestes et attitudes cultuels des figurines de bronze ibériques,” Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez 4 (1968): 27-50; and C. Rueda Galán, “La mujer sacralizada: La presencia de las mujeres en los santuarios (lectura desde los exvotos de bronce iberos),” Complutum 18 (2007): 227-35.

4. See, for example, 1933.134.

Aaron Paul and Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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