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A person holds something to their chest

A person stands with their right arm holding something to their chest which is pointed at two ends, like a fish. They wear a short skirt that looks braided, no shoes, and there are lines around their upper arms which may be accessories or sleeves. There is a line around their head which may indicate a cap or hairline. Their eyes are large and wide apart, their nose is indistinguishable from their cheeks, and their mouth is a line. The surface is green and seems to have eroded throughout, which leads to a very simple and vague carving style.

Gallery Text

In spite of abundant material remains, the meanings behind some ritual behaviors are mysterious. Thousands of figurines were recovered from the remote sanctuary sites of Collado de los Jardines and Castellar in south-central Spain, but it is not known to which god(s) they were dedicated. The figurines are of individuals, frequently in poses of worship. Some are very abstract and schematically rendered, while others wear identifiable contemporary clothing. In spite of the similarity of forms, there is nothing to indicate that the intention behind each offering was the same. Additional figures are available to view in the Art Study Center.

Identification and Creation

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


Level 3, Room 3700, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Roman Art
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Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
8.2 x 2 x 1.3 cm (3 1/4 x 13/16 x 1/2 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: iron, nickel, silver, antimony

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is green with brown accretions and several spots of black sulfide corrosion. The surface is fairly well preserved. The 2-mm hole on the chest is a casting flaw. The figure is a solid cast, probably from a model made by working directly in wax. Most of the shapes were made in the wax model. Details of the eyes, toes, and clothing appear to have been enhanced by cold working the metal cast.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)


Recorded Ownership History
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, (by 1933), by exchange; to the Fogg Art Museum.

Excavated at the sanctuary site of Collado de los Jardines, Jaén, in the early 1900s.

Note: In exchange for a Sepulchral slab from the Cemetery at Sahagun, Leon, Spain (formerly accession number 1926.20.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of The Republic of Spain through the Museo Arqueologico Nacional and Professor A. Kingsley Porter
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
The warrior stands frontally, feet on a circular base, with a dagger held to his chest (1). The top of his head is smooth and round, and it is encircled by a band or diadem. There are looped coils around the back of the head, indicating hair or styled braids. His facial features are elongated and rather flat. The wide eyes are incised, while the nose and mouth are modeled. The features from his forehead to the bottom of his nose are slightly raised from the base level of the face, giving the figure the appearance of wearing a mask. The man is clad in a short V-neck tunic. The short sleeves are decorated with molded bands above the elbow, and the hem has a wide, incised herringbone pattern. The narrow waist is encircled by a wide belt with molded bands on the back and a large rectangular clasp on the front (2). He holds his left arm pressed against his side, completely joined to the torso. His palm is placed on his left hip with fingers splayed. The upper right arm is also pressed against his side and part of his torso; the arm is bent upward at the elbow, and the figure clenches a dagger, possibly unfinished, in his right fist and holds it diagonally across his chest. The legs are completely separated below the hem of the tunic and are modeled in the round. The lower legs are rather muscular compared to the other Iberian statuettes. His knees are slightly indicated, and the leg tapers toward the ankles. His feet are pressed flat on the circular base, which is integral with the figure (3). Separate toes are indicated by incision. When upright, the figure appears to lean forward (4). The statuette is modeled in the round.

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 (5). Many of the statuettes depict individuals, some of whom are represented in poses of prayer or offering (6). Some are very abstract and schematically rendered, while others wear identifiable contemporary clothing (7). In spite of the similarity of the votives, there is nothing to indicate that the intention behind each offering was the same. This example is most likely from the cave sanctuary of Collado de los Jardines near Santa Elena, Jaén. It was given to Harvard in 1933 by the Republic of Spain in exchange for the cover of the eleventh-century sarcophagus of Alfonso Ansúrez from Sahagún, León, which was then in the collection of the Fogg Art Museum (8).


1. The best comparison is F. Álvarez-Ossorio, Catalogo de los exvotos de bronce, ibericos, Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1941) no. 222, pl. 36, although it is on a square base.

2. An epitome describing the Iberians preserved from Nicholas of Damascus’ universal history notes that the Iberians had a belt of a certain size, and it was considered unseemly if anyone could not fit in it; see Nicolai Damasceni Historiarum excerpta et fragmenta quae supersunt Graece (Lipsiae/Leipzig, 1804) 142-45 “Iberi/Ιβηροι.” The first-century BCE geographer Strabo has a longer description of this custom. He remarks that another geographer, Ephorus, extended the boundaries of the Celts too far and included the Iberians, and then he notes that these people “take great care not to become too fat or big-bellied, and that if any young man exceeds the measure of a certain girdle, he is punished” (Strabo, 4.4.6). Despite the confusion about whether this anecdote refers to the Celts or the Iberians, this detail appears to correspond to the account of Nicholas and is illustrated by the attire of statuettes like this one.

3. For similar bases, although of different statuette types, see L. Prados Torreira, Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992) 184-85, nos. 150-52.

4. Another statuette that holds its dagger at its side, similarly seems to lean forward and also has an unusually elaborately incised tunic; see ibid., 205, no. 394.

5. 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., Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992); 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.

6. 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.

7. See, for example, 1933.134.

8. See “Collections and Critiques,” The Harvard Crimson, Dec. 12, 1935; and Á. Franco, “Arte medieval leonés fuera de España,” in La dispersión de objetos de arte fuera de España en los siglos XIX y XX, eds. F. Pérez Mulet and I. Socias Batet (Barcelona, 2011) 93-132, esp. 113-16.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

  • "Collections and Critiques", The Harvard Crimson, Dec. 12, 1935
  • Francisco Alvarez-Ossorio, Catalogo de los exvotos de bronce, ibericos, Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1941), cat. no. 80, inv. no. 28795, pl. 14.
  • Lourdes Prados Torreira, "La coleccion de bronces ibericos del Peabody Museum de Harvard", Bronces y Religion Romana: Actas del XI Congreso Internacional de Bronces Antiguos, Madrid, Mayo-Junio 1990, ed. J. Arce and F. Burkhalter, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (Madrid, 1993), 361-67, p. 365, no. 18, fig. 2.
  • Robert H. Tykot, Lourdes Prados Torreira, and Miriam S. Balmuth, "Iberian bronze figurines: technological and stylistic analysis", From the Parts to the Whole: Acta of the 13th International Bronze Congress, ed. Carol C. Mattusch, Amy Brauer, and Sandra E. Knudsen, Journal of Roman Archaeology (Portsmouth, RI, 2000), vol. 2, p. 27-30, no. 114, fig. 2.
  • Ángela Franco, "Arte medieval leonés fuera de España", La dispersión de objetos de arte fuera de España en los siglos XIX y XX, ed. Fernando Pérez Mulet and Immaculada Socias Batet, Edicions Universitat Barcelona (Barcelona, 2011), 93-132, p. 115 n.64.

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 3700 Roman, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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