- Museum number
Fired clay statuette of Europa riding the bull-figure of Zeus, galloping to the right; she sits sidewards on the bull's back with her legs crossed, holding the veil to the side of the face with the right hand, and the end of the drapery, close to her knee with the left hand; her left elbow rests on a cushion; nude except for the wide transparent bordered veil; hair parted in the middle and drawn back from the face; on the head she wears a diadem from which the long veil descends; the group is placed on a high oval base, representing a rock (?); double mould, open base; back well worked; venthole in the base; pale greenish clay; remnants of lime wash; traces of original pigments, namely blue paint on the veil, pink on flesh, red on the base and black on the borders of the veil and on the bull's head.
- Production date
Height: 18.80 centimetres
Weight: 427 grammes
Width: 16.50 centimetres
Depth: 5 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Attributed 3rd-2nd century BC Seleucid date by Karvonen-Kannas ('The Seleucid and Parthian terracotta figurines from Babylon: in the Iraq Museum, the British Museum and the Louvre', 1995), but the rigid frontality of the object suggests that it may be a little later, possibly as late as the 1st century AD.
Europa riding the bull-figure of Zeus
Possibly 1st century BC – 1st century AD
This is a scene from Classical mythology. Europa was said to be the daughter of a Phoenician king who was abducted by the Greek god Zeus who took the form of a bull. She was carried off to Crete and their sons were said to have included king Minos. The delicate colouring includes a blue veil, pink flesh, red base, and black on the borders of the veil and on the bull's head. This combination of colours and Classical mythology are clear evidence for Greek influence on local arts and crafts following the conquest by Alexander in the 3rd century BC. However, the frontal style of this object is non-Classical and the object therefore probably dates to the early Parthian period.
Pigments identified through analysis.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018 May-Sep, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of History, 'An Age of Luxury' 2010-2011 3 Dec-3 May, Madrid, Canal de Isabel II, 'Alejandro Magno: Encuentro con Oriente'
2010 21 Mar-1 Nov, Leobon, Kunsthalle Museumcenter, 'Alexander der Grosse und die offnung der Welt'
2009-2010 2 Oct-21 Feb, Mannheim, Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, 'Alexander der Grosse und die offnung der Welt'
2007 13 Feb-27 May, Italy, Turin, 'Sulla via di Alessandro da Seleucia al Gandhara'
2003 19 Mar-7 June, Greece, Athens, Benaki Museum, 'The Bull in the Mediterranean World'
2002-2003 14 Nov-6 Mar, Spain, Barcelona, Salo del Tinell, 'The Bull in the Mediterranean World'
1995-2005 17 Nov-15 Dec, BM, G52/IRAN/25
1994 16 Jun-23 Dec, BM, G49/IRAN
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number