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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Whetstone Finial
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
10th-8th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Luristan (Iran)
Iron Age
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Cast, lost-wax process
8.6 x 7.8 x 2.2 cm (3 3/8 x 3 1/16 x 7/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 88.34; Sn, 9.7; Pb, 1.49; Zn, 0.005; Fe, 0.08; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.02; Sb, 0.12; As, 0.22; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.006; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron
K. Eremin, January 2014

Chemical Composition: EMP analysis from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 90.86; Sn, 7.01; Pb, 0.12; Zn, 0.00; Fe, 0.06; Ni, 0.01; Ag, 0.00; Sb, 0.04; As, 0.04

T. Richardson, June 1999

Technical Observations: The patina is red with areas of green and brown burial accretions. The surface is reasonably well preserved. The dendritic structure of the cast has been etched through corrosion and is visible on the surface of the object. Minor casting flaws are visible in the horns and the body.

The soft, freely formed shapes of the metal point to direct work used in forming the wax model. The hollow section extends only to the neck and was designed to accept the whetstone, secured with a pin through holes near the opening. The edges of the irregular holes are rounded and soft and appear to have been made in the model rather than drilled in the metal. One of the holes is larger and more irregular due to a casting flaw. There may be evidence of cold working in the eyes, but most detail appears to have been created in the wax model. The undersides of the forelegs were not modeled identically, and one was flattened in the wax model.

Tracy Richardson and Henry Lie (submitted 1999, updated 2012)

Philip Hofer, Cambridge, MA, (by 1956), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1956.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Philip Hofer in memory of Langdon Warner
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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This whetstone finial is in the shape of the head, neck, and foreparts of an ibex mounted on a cylindrical socket. The ibex has curving horns, with four raised bumps on the exterior side of each, that curve back to connect to the neck. Its pointed, leaf-shaped ears are separated from the head. Its eyes are represented by a large raised circle with a slightly smaller raised circle for the pupil. Its rod-like beard connects to the neck; there is a concavity under the chin behind the beard. Molded forelimbs are disproportionately small, spindly, and integral to the cast of the socket. The socket flares slightly toward the end, which has a raised band. There is a circular hole on either side near the end (not well preserved on one due to chipping) for attachment to the whetstone itself.
Publication History

Tracy Richardson, "A Technical Study of Luristan Bronzes From Ancient Iran" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, June 1999), Unpublished, pp. 1-15 passim

Exhibition History

The Art of Luristan, Plymouth State College, Plymouth, 10/04/1970 - 10/29/1970; Chapel Arts Center, Manchester, 11/08/1970 - 12/22/1970

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at