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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Work Type
9th-8th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Sardinia
Iron Age
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast, lost-wax process
8.1 x 2.6 x 3.4 cm (3 3/16 x 1 x 1 5/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 80.54; Sn, 17.76; Pb, 0.88; Zn, 0.013; Fe, 0.33; Ni, 0.04; Ag, 0.07; Sb, 0.02; As, 0.31; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.034; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is red with areas of dark green. The object is mostly mineralized and brittle. The green layers of corrosion have largely been removed in a cleaning process, and the underlying red is exposed. Most detail of the surface is lost. The break and loss of the legs predates excavation.

The bronze is a solid cast, probably from a model made directly in wax. The surface is in poor condition, and it is not possible to determine if any cold-work detail was included in the finishing process.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
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 fragmentary Sardinian warrior, possibly an archer, is missing much of the bow or spear held over his shoulder, the arms from just above the elbows down, and the lower body from the waist down. The head is long and oval, with simple details typical of other Sardinian warriors. The globular, curving ears are positioned far back on the head. The brows are prominent; the eyes are large oblong knobs; the nose is a thin, prominent triangle. The mouth is a simple line above a small, pointed chin. He wears a helmet with a central ridge and long thin, curving horns—the right horn is missing approximately half, while the left has broken off entirely. There is a quasi-chevron pattern on the back of his head representing hair, which is interrupted by a long inverted V-shape that continues into the eight neck rings covering his disproportionately long neck (1).

Over his right shoulder he bears a transverse rod with a faint spiral texture (2). Figures of Sardinian warriors carrying a weapon at an angle over the shoulder are well known, but the weapon is usually over the left shoulder rather than the right (3); the weapon is most often a bow, although spears are also seen. On his torso, the archer wears a V-neck garment with short sleeves; it covers him down to and perhaps below the level of the square pouch visible on his front. The straps of the garment may be connected to the prominent shape on his back, perhaps representing a quiver. This figure would probably have been a votive dedication at a temple or other sacred area (4). This object was sampled for alloy testing in the 1970s (5).


1. Compare similar seams on the backs of archers in J. Thimme, ed., Kunst und Kultur Sardiniens vom Neolithikum bis zum Ende der Nuraghenzeit, exh. cat., Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe; Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte der Staatlichen Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (Karlsruhe, 1980) 379, nos. 91-93.

2. The spiral is more prominent in the color photograph than it is when viewed under regular daylight.

3. Compare the warriors in Thimme (supra 1) 378-83, nos. 90-106, with nos. 90, 102, and 104 holding their weapons over their right shoulders, like the Harvard example.

4. For an overview of Sardinian Nuragic bronze sculptures, their typology, and use, see P. Melis, The Nuragic Civilization (Sassari, 2003) 52-60.

5. The first analysis, by L. P. Stodulski, gave the following results:
Cu, 84 +/- 8%; Sn, 8.0 +/- 0.2%; Pb, 0.68 +/- 0.2%; Zn, 0.42 +/- 0.12%; Fe, 0.25 +/- 0.03%; Ni, <0.14%; Ag, 0.03 +/- 0.01%; Sb, <0.03%; As, 0.51 +/- 0.05%; Bi, <0.003%; Co, 0.05 +/- 0.02% (compare J. Riederer’s more recent analysis of this piece under Chemical Composition); see M. S. Balmuth, “Sardinian Bronzetti in American Museums,” Studi sardi 24 (1975-1977): 145-56, where the methodology used at the time for alloy analysis is also explained.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

  • Miriam S. Balmuth, "Sardinian Bronzetti in American Museums", Studi Sardi (1975-1977), Vol. 24, 145-52, p. 152, pl. 9.9-10.
  • David Gordon Mitten and Amy Brauer, Dialogue with Antiquity, The Curatorial Achievement of George M. A. Hanfmann, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1982), p. 14, no. 44.

Exhibition History

  • Dialogue with Antiquity: The Curatorial Achievement of George M.A. Hanfmann, Fogg Art Museum, 05/07/1982 - 06/26/1982

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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