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Identification and Creation

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

Physical Descriptions

Cast, lost-wax process
7.9 cm (3 1/8 in.)
Technical Details

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

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is light green with brown burial accretions. The surface is well preserved. Small holes present on the surface are the result of porosity in the casting. There is damage to the surface, and corrosion layers are lost on the hands, feet, and nose. Black spots on the lower legs are modern sulfide corrosion products. 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 may have been enhanced by cold working.

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.

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 male figure wears a helmet pushed back on his brow. There is a line visible up the center in the front of the helmet, and the neck guard is prominently molded. His oval ears are comparatively elaborate C-shapes with the ends curled inward. His face is broad; his eyes are incised ellipses, his nose is broad and flat, and his long, thin upper and lower lips are clearly indicated. His chin is narrow and juts upward slightly as though the face were lifted up, and his neck is round and proportionate. He wears a short V-neck tunic with short sleeves with a wide belt that seems to bind the narrow waist tightly (1). His short arms are completely separated from his body and held out with palms up (2). The hands are disproportionately large; the thumbs are separated, and fingers are indicated on the palm side only. His legs are separated and have a relatively natural musculature. Short lines indicate toes. The figure 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 (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. 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.

2. Compare L. Prados Torreira, Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992) 199, nos. 321-31; and R. Lantier, Bronzes votifs ibériques (Paris, 1935) nos. 45-52 and 102-104, pls. 6 and 10.

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 2); 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. 273, inv. no. 29257, pl. 43.
  • 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. 364-65, no. 16, 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. 136, 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

Verification Level

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