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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Tube with Janiform Faces
Other Titles
Title: Finial with Human Head Design
Work Type
8th-mid 7th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Luristan (Iran)
Iron Age III
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Cast, lost-wax process
9.2 x 2.4 cm (3 5/8 x 15/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 88.67; Sn, 11.05; Pb, 0.13; Zn, less than 0.001; Fe, 0.04; Ni, 0.02; Ag, 0.03; Sb, 0.05; As, less than 0.10; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.10; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is a heavily corroded green and red with brown burial deposits. The object is intact, but the surface is poorly preserved. The finial was cast, probably by the lost-wax process.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)

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
This hollow cast tube with a double-flanged base is topped by janiform faces with a vertically segmented molding that evokes thick hair. Pellet eyes, large pinched noses, and projecting lower jaws characterize the faces, which share flat, protruding ears. An associated iron rod—in good condition and probably modern—slides through the tube.

Janiform tubes may have served as finials or belonged to poles topped by other finials. A variety of related tubes is attributed to Luristan, but only one example was excavated (1). Objects of this type may be iconographically related to “Master of Animals” standards, examples of which have been excavated from Iron Age III tombs in Luristan (2). The style of facial rendering on the Harvard tube is also comparable to that of excavated objects (3).


1. See C. Goff, “Excavations at Baba Jan: The Pottery and Metal from Levels III and II,” Iran 16 (1978): 29-65, esp. 38 and 56, no. 26, fig. 14. Compare also O. W. Muscarella, Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1988) 137 and 151-52, nos. 240-42; P. R. S. Moorey, Catalogue of the Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1971) 164-65, nos. 188-89, pls. 37-38; W. Nagel, Altorientalisches Kunsthandwerk (Berlin, 1963) no. 91, pl. 45; Man in the Ancient World: An Exhibition of Pre-Christian Objects from the Regions of the Near East, Egypt and The Mediterranean, exh. cat., Paul Klapper Library, Queen’s College, City University of New York (Flushing, NY, 1958) 15 and 35, no. 39; and G. Zahlhaas, Luristan: Antike Bronzen aus dem Iran, Ausstellungskataloge der Archäologischen Staatssammlung 33 (Munich, 2002) 118-19, nos. 245-49.

2. See Moorey 1971 (supra 1) 164; Muscarella 1988 (supra 1) 137; L. Vanden Berghe, “La nécropole de Bani Surmah, aurore d’une civilizations du bronze,” Archéologia 24 (1968): 52-63, esp. 52; and id., “Excavations in Pusht-i Kuh (Iran): Tombs Provide Evidence on Dating ‘Typical Luristan Bronzes,’” Archeology 24 (1971): 263-71, esp. 266-68.

3. See L. Vanden Berghe, “Recherches archéologiques dans le Luristan: Sixième Campagne, 1970. Fouilles à Bard-i Bal et à Pa-yi Kal,” Iranica Antiqua 10 (1973): 1-79, esp. 48, pl. 23.2.

Amy Gansell

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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