Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Male 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
9.4 cm (3 11/16 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 and black with green and red raised warts. The surface is well preserved except where raised warts of red and green corrosion products have formed.

The figure is a solid cast, probably from a model made by working directly in wax that included most of the details. The facial features and toes have been enhanced by cold working. The gray metal on the face, perhaps zinc, may be from the partial segregation of that metal during casting. Confused double-punch marks on the proper right eye may indicate the irregular surfaces in the face were present after the figure was cast and were still present during cold working rather than appearing later as a result of corrosion damage.

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.
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
This statuette represents a man wearing a tall, oblong helmet with a prominent neck guard. His face is poorly preserved, but under the corrosion, it is possible to make out almond-shaped eyes with horizontal lines separating the lids. He has a protruding triangular nose, and a small incision for the mouth may be visible above the small, round chin. The neck is rather wide and flat, leading to the sloping shoulders and flat torso. The man stands with one hand raised palm outward in salute (the thumb is missing) with the other hand held palm outward, fingers down at his waist level. The hand at his waist probably once held out an offering. Fingers are indicated on each hand but not separated (1). The upper arms are fused to the torso. He wears a short V-neck tunic with a belt around his narrow waist (2). The belt is prominent and square in front, but it is represented only by incised lines in the back. The legs are rounded, giving some indication of musculature, particularly around the calf muscles. The man appears to be barefoot. Toes are indicated by incised lines, and the heels are pointed. With the exception of the belt, the back is essentially featureless.

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 (3). Many of the statuettes depict individuals, some of whom are represented in poses of prayer or offering (4). Some are very abstract and schematically rendered, while others wear identifiable contemporary clothing (5). 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 (6).


1. See also L. Prados Torreira, Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992) 202, nos. 368 and 370. There are similar statuettes that gesture with both hands lowered at waist height; see ibid., 201, nos. 354-58. Compare also R. Lantier, Bronzes votifs ibériques (Paris, 1935) no. 30, pl. 4.

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. See F. Álvarez-Ossorio, Bronces ibéricos o hispánicos del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Madrid, 1935) 20-27; id., Catálogo de los exvotos de bronce ibéricos (Madrid, 1941); 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.

4. 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.

5. See, for example, this piece or 1933.134.

6. 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. 238, inv. no. 28925, pl. 38.

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. 364, no. 15, 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. 119, 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.

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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