Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Smiting Male
Other Titles
Former Title: Striding God Figure
Work Type
sculpture, statuette
16th-13th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Anatolia
Bronze Age, Late
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
6 x 2 x 1.8 cm (2 3/8 x 13/16 x 11/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is a dark greenish black. This solid piece was created by the lost-wax process. The figure is modeled in the round. The modeling of facial features appears to have been done in the wax. Fine striations on the front torso, crown, and back are related to the finishing of the object after casting. They are deeper than surface cleaning marks and are more regular and specific to the flattened areas of the figure. Vertical marks at the buttocks are modern abrasions.

Tracy Richardson (submitted 1999)

Louise M. and George E. Bates, Camden, ME (by 1971-1992), gift; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 1992.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Louise M. and George E. Bates
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
The features of this small smiting figurine are characteristic of the art of the Hittite Empire (c. 1400-1200 BCE). Most prominent among these are the upturned toes of the shoes and the arcing thrust of the back leg, which causes the chest to push forward (1). The squat proportions, broad shoulders tapering to a narrow waist, the short and tightly fitting kilt, and the emphasized musculature further indicate strong Hittite influences. However, the smiting posture, here seen in the standard arrangement of the proper right arm raised and the left extended out to the front, is less typical for Hittite gods and more closely associated with the regions of the northern Levant that fell within the Hittite sphere of political influence at the end of the second millennium BCE (2). The figure wears a tall conical crown and has a well-modeled body and clearly defined facial features, including modeled eyes, ears, and mouth. Both arms are broken at the ends, but the raised right arm preserves part of a pierced hole. The feet align one in front of the other, forming a narrow base above a long tang beneath for attachment.

The geographical area of the Levant, comprising the regions of present-day Israel, Lebanon, western Syria, and south-central Turkey, produced an extraordinary number of small copper alloy figurines from the end of the third millennium into the beginning of the first millennium BCE (3). Most of these figurines depict a standing male figure with left foot advancing and right arm raised in a position of smiting (4). Often the hands are pierced with holes to hold weapons or armor. These separate elements are preserved in a few examples, the most spectacular being a warrior holding a spear and shield found in a late thirteenth or early twelfth century BCE building at Enkomi on Cyprus (5). The figurines have a wide distribution, with examples found as far away as Greece, but the majority is concentrated along the Mediterranean coast of the Levant (6).

While the figurines share a common conceptual underpinning, the actual forms and styles of the small copper alloys display a remarkable range of diversity. In general, they appear to move along a spectrum from those that include a high degree of Egyptianizing elements, presumably produced in regions closer to Egypt, to those showing stronger affinities with the Hittite artistic tradition of central Turkey. Such stylistic features are evident in the shape and type of the tall crown, the form of the short skirt or kilt, and the proportions of the body. The basic iconography of the smiting figure is derived from the Egyptian image of Pharaoh defeating his enemies; yet, there is no exact parallel in Egypt, indicating a peculiarly Levantine iconographic conception. The figure most likely represents a deity, sometimes identified as either Baal or Reshep, two West Semitic gods. Although no definitive evidence exists to support these attributions, some examples have horns on their headdresses, which are a Near Eastern attribute of divinity (7). Where archaeological contexts are sufficiently well preserved, the figurines are clearly associated with cultic spaces. The largest group of excavated figurines comes from several locations in the temple complex at Byblos on the Lebanese coast, while another set was excavated in a Late Bronze Age temple complex at Kamid el-Loz in inland Lebanon (8). The precise dating of the figurines remains fraught for several reasons. First, many were hoarded and only buried well after their date of manufacture. Second, there is only poor information available, if there is any at all, on the provenience of a large portion of the figurines in museum collections. Finally, while the overall conception of the figurines unites them as a group, the diversity of individual features and styles often makes stylistic comparisons difficult.


1. Compare representations of Hittite gods, for example, at the open air sanctuary of Yazılıkaya near the capital of Hattusa (central Turkey) in E. Akurgal, The Art of the Hittites (New York, 1962) fig. 19, pls. 76-77. In the small-scale arts, also compare a set of gold inlays from a grave at Carchemish, the north Syrian seat of Hittite power during the Late Bronze Age, and a gold figurine of a deity from the Hittite heartland near the capital of Hattusa; see ibid., pl. 53.

2. For examples found in Turkey, see O. Negbi, Canaanite Gods in Metal: An Archaeological Study of Ancient Syro-Palestinian Figurines (Tel Aviv, 1976) no. 1395, pl. 27 (Konya, no provenience); and a bronze smiting figure of Hittite type that preserves a set of divine horns at the base of the headdress, found out of context in the area of Sivas in south-central Turkey, ibid, no. 1397; the latter is also in H. Seeden, The Standing Armed Figurines in the Levant, Prähistorische Bronzefunde 1.1 (Munich, 1980) no. 1828. For a discussion of Hittite-style bronzes in the smiting position, see A. M. Bisi, “Souche anatolienne et influences extérieures dans les petits bronzes Hittites,” in XXXIVème Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, 6-10 July 1987, Istanbul (Ankara, 1998) 275-80.

3. For Levantine copper alloy figurines in general, see Negbi 1976 (supra 2); and P. R. S. Moorey and S. Fleming, “Problems in the Study of the Anthropomorphic Metal Statuary from Syro-Palestine Before 330 B.C.,” Levant 16 (1984): 67-90.

4. For the smiting copper alloy figurines, see Seeden 1980 (supra 2); D. Collon, “The Smiting God: A Study of a Bronze in the Pomerance Collection in New York,” Levant 4 (1972): 111-34; and ead., “Note on ‘A Bronze in the Pomerance Collection, New York,’” Levant 5 (1973): 133.

5. J.-C. Courtois, J. Lagarce, and E. Lagarce, Enkomi et le bronze récent à Chypre (Nicosia, 1986) pl. 18.4.

6. For distribution maps, see Seeden 1980 (supra 2) pls. 118-19.

7. For a summary of problems relating to the identity of Levantine copper alloy statuettes, see Moorey and Fleming 1984 (supra 3) 78-80.

8. For the Byblos copper alloy statuette hoards, see Seeden 1980 (supra 2) 36-102. For the Kamid el-Loz examples, see H. Kühne, “Die Bronzestatuetten aus dem ‘spätbronzezeitlichen’ Tempel,” in Bericht über die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen in Kamid el-Loz in den Jahren 1968 bis 1970, ed. R. Hachmann, Saarbrücker Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 22 (Bonn, 1980) 63-81. For a general discussion of context for the anthropomorphic statuettes, see Moorey and Fleming 1984 (supra 3) 76-77.

Marian Feldman

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

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