Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
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
Schematic Votive Statuette
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
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
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
6.7 x 2.2 x 0.7 cm (2 5/8 x 7/8 x 1/4 in.)
Technical Details

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

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is green with brown accretions. A lighter green layer is visible where the surface is damaged. The surface is fairly well preserved. The figure is a solid cast, probably from a model made by working directly in wax. Most or all of the shapes and surface detail were made in the wax model. The entire surface was crudely scraped as a finishing procedure. The small mouth was made using the same tool.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)

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 Arthur 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
This schematic statuette depicts a face and feet at the top and bottom of a featureless shaft representing the body (1). It is rounded at the top and tapers in width to its feet. The head is very simple. The top of the statuette is flat; it becomes rounder around the head. The general shape of a face is rendered, but the only facial features depicted are a prominent triangular nose (as on 1933.138) and a narrow pointed chin. A shallow triangular notch just above the chin may be meant to represent the mouth. The shaft-like body is completely flat and smooth. At the bottom of the body, a block-like base juts out to represent feet. There is a slight incision on the top, front, and bottom of the block to indicate two separate feet. The back of the statuette is completely featureless. On this side, it is flatter at the top and becomes more rounded and convex from the head to 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). 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 (5).


1. For a similar representation of head and block-like feet on a simple body, although with a differentiated neck, see L. Prados Torreira, Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992) 241, no. 841. The overall form is perhaps more similar to ibid., 234, nos. 745-47, which represent schematized female figures wrapped in voluminous cloaks. Compare also F. Álvarez-Ossorio, Catalogo de los exvotos de bronce, ibericos, Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1941) pl. 82, particularly the middle row.

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; 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.

5. 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

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

Related Works

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