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A figure with a large headdress reaches out to the viewer.

A female figure with bent knees reaches both arms out, palms up. She has large hands, a narrow body, and wears a long dress with short sleeves. Her breasts are indicated by two mounds on her chest. She wears a headdress which has a pointed top and two pointed panels which hang down to her knees behind her. Her face is simple, with two circle eyes and a nose that sticks out, her mouth is barely defined and blends into the bottom of the nose, and she has shoulder length hair. The surface is light green and beige allover.

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
Female 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

Cast, lost-wax process
8.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 cm (3 7/16 x 1 3/8 x 11/16 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 green with brown burial accretions. The surface is well preserved. There are small losses of the top layer of corrosion products at the hands, toes, nose, and headdress. The small pits on the stomach are the result of corrosion and are not a design element.

The figure is a solid cast, probably from a model made by working directly in wax that included most of the details. The eyes, fingers, headdress, and toes 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 (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
This female orant wears a high, pointed headdress covered by a long cloak or veil that falls in an arrowhead-shape down her back (1). Above her forehead, two bands of the headdress are visible under the cloak. Her facial features are small: the eyes are small points, and the nose is triangular over a semicircular incision indicating a smiling mouth. On both sides of her head are large circular discs, likely representing tymphanum of the type mentioned by Strabo (2). She wears a long, unbelted, and undecorated form-fitting dress with short sleeves. Her breasts are slightly indicated; the body is extremely narrow from the torso downward, particularly around the waist. The hem of the dress is indicated by a raised line around her ankles. She stands frontally, with her arms at her sides and slightly raised. Her palms are held out in a gesture of adoration or prayer. Her legs and heels are pressed together, and her knees are slightly bent. Her feet are separated by a triangular cleft, with the toes articulated and heels pointed. The back is flat and featureless down to the knees, where it becomes more rounded and more details appear on the dress and 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 (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 (5).


1. Compare L. Prados Torreira, Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992) 233, nos. 735-37 and 288, no. 1407. Compare R. Lantier, Bronzes votifs ibériques (Paris, 1935) no. 208, pl. 15.

2. The first-century BCE geographer Strabo describes the large disc-like decorations as “drums” (tymphanum) that spiral outward, increasing in height and width, covering part of the head down to the ears. (Strabo, 3.4.17). He mentions that some of the women twist their hair around a rod and cover it in a black veil, which seems to correspond to the pointed headdresses seen on this statuette and 1978.507. Compare the large and elaborate wheel-like discs on the side of the head and pointed headdress of the stone bust known as the Lady of Elche (Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid, inv. no. 1971/10/1) with these details on the two Harvard statuettes. See also the Iberian stone heads from the sanctuary at Cerro de los Santos with high pointed headdresses similar to Harvard’s bronzes in the Museo de Albacete, inv. nos. DE07515 and CE04302; and the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid, inv. nos. 3513 and 7510. For a comparison of bronze votives from Despeñaperros and stone sculptures, see H. Sandars, “Pre-Roman Bronze Votive Offerings from Despeñaperros, in Sierra Morena, Spain,” Archaeologia, or Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity 10 (1906) 69-92.

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. 37, inv. no. 29200, pl. 7.
  • 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. 363, no. 8, fig. 1.
  • 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. 130, fig. 1.
  • 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

  • Ancient Bronzes
  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

Related Works

Verification Level

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