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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Crescent Arrowhead
Weapons and Ammunition
Work Type
late 2nd-early 1st Millennium BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia
Iron Age
Near Eastern
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast, lost-wax process
5.4 x 6.2 cm (2 1/8 x 2 7/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 92.28; Sn, 7.54; Pb, 0.1; Zn, 0.002; Fe, less than 0.01; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.05; Sb, less than 0.05; As, less than 0.10; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.01; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is green, and there are green nodules and exposed spots of underlying red. Some soil accretions are also present. The rough nodules of raised green corrosion are an indication that the surface has not been cleaned since it was excavated. The object is stable. The tang is out of line with the point of the arrowhead and may have been bent slightly prior to burial.

A slight ridge along the trailing edge of the blade near the tang may be from a dislocation in a mold used to form a wax model, although the shape is simple and may also have been made directly in the wax model. The square tang joins the blade, and the blade becomes thicker in line with the tang. The tang may have been split at one end and then added to the back edge of the blade, which added to the thickness on both sides. This would strengthen both the wax model and the resulting bronze casting. The front edge of the blade is thinner than the back edge and was probably sharpened abrasively, although the rough surface hides any evidence of such work.

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 cast arrowhead has a crescent blade and a square tang and mid-rib. Deltoid and ovate blades are more typical of weaponry attributed to and excavated from first-millennium BCE Iranian contexts, where iron, rather than bronze, examples predominate (1). A tanged copper alloy crescent blade, slightly more than twice the size of this object, was excavated at Cemetery B of Tepe Sialk; otherwise, no close Near Eastern parallel is known for this piece (2).


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) 58-59; A. Godard, Les Bronzes du Luristan, Ars Asiatica 17 (Paris, 1931) 44-45, pl. 13; E. Haerinck and B. Overlaet, Chamahzi Mumah: An Iron Age III Graveyard, Luristan Excavations Documents 2, Acta Iranica 29 (Leuven, 1998) 17-18, pl. 49; iid., Djub-I Gauhar and Gul Khanan Murdah: Iron Age III Graveyards in the Aivan Plain, Luristan Excavation Documents 3, Acta Iranica 36 (Leuven, 1999) 24-25 and 164-66, pls. 127 and 130; P. R. S. Moorey, Catalogue of the Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1971) 83-87; E. Negahban, Weapons from Marlik (Berlin, 1995) 79-89, pl. 12; J. and D. Oates, Nimrud: An Assyrian Imperial City Revealed (London, 2000) 248 n.57; and D. Stronach, “Metal Objects from the 1957 Excavations at Nimrud,” Iraq 20.2 (1958): 169-81, esp. 170-72, pls. 32-33.

2. See R. Ghirshman, Fouilles de Sialk près de Kashan 1933, 1934, 1937 (Paris, 1939) 2: 47 and 218, no. 12, pl. 26.

Amy Gansell

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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