- Museum number
Copper alloy bull statuette; head lowered; elaborately modelled series of six folds of skin around the neck, with four more folds above the eyes; modelled phallus and genitalia; faint Sabaean inscription along the right side of the body; eyes originally inlaid; cast on a clay core hence its relatively heavy weight; stands on pedestal.
- Production date
- 1stC BC-2ndC (between)
Height: 21 centimetres (overall)
Length: 28 centimetres (overall)
Weight: 2901 grammes
Thickness: 9.70 centimetres (max)
- Curator's comments
cf. G Ryckmans, Nom propres I, p. 14 'dt hmy'.
Qualitative spectrographic analysis, undertaken by the Department of Scientific Research on a sample of metal from this object, confirms that it is a copper alloy containing the usual metallic impurities to be expected of an object of this period.1 The bull was cast and riveted onto the double plinth base. The tail is broken but was originally in an erect position: a very similar but uninscribed tin-bronze bull is published from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and up to five others appear to have been in the Muncherjee collection, indicating that they must have been a very popular form of dedication (Muscarella 1988, 356-7, no. 478). A photograph sent by the vendor confirms that this bull was one of a pair and it was stated that his Yemeni supplier came from near Marib. The folds of skin around the neck and brow ridges are typical of South Arabian depictions of bulls and are also found on stone sculptures (see Simpson StJ 2002acat. 216).
1 Unpublished report (R.L. File No. 3039).
Muscarella, O. W., 1988. 'Bronze and Iron. Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art', New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
See Antonini 2007a 175-176, 178 for the examples from the Aden National Museum.
Bulls on stepped bases were also carved in calcite-alabaster such as those excavated from the peristyle hall by the American Foundation for the Study of Man (Albright 1958, pp 273, cat. 49, 53, pp 286, nos 207, 208).
Albright, F.P., 1958. Catalogue of objects found in Mârib excavations, in R.L Bowen, Jr., & F.P Albright (eds), Archaeological Discoveries in South Arabia, 269-286. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press.
Bowers Catalogue entry:
Inscribed bull dedicated to the goddess dhat-Himyam
1st - 2nd century AD
Height 21 cm, length 28 cm, width 9.7 cm (max.); 2,901 g weight
ANE 1971-2-27,1 = 135562
Purchased from Mr Melvin L. Milligan
The faint Sabaean inscription along the right side of the body reads: “to dhat-Himyam, two bulls”, indicating that this was one of a pair of bull figures to be dedicated to this goddess. Its (missing) pair was presumably inscribed along the opposite flank, and the two must have been set up together. Scientific analysis confirms that this figure was cast from copper alloy and riveted onto the stepped base. The tail is broken but was originally in an erect position. A very similar but uninscribed tin-bronze bull exists in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, up to five others are known and fragments of bronze and stone bull statuettes also standing on a stepped base were found in the Peristyle Hall of the Awwam temple at Marib. These frequent finds therefore indicate that they must have been a very popular form of dedication. The folds of skin around the neck and brow ridges are typical of ancient South Arabian depictions of bulls and are also found on stone sculptures.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2005 25 Jun-11 Sept, Washington, Smithsonian (Arthur M Sackler Gallery), 'Caravan Kingdoms: Yemen and the ancient incense trade'
2004-2005 17 Oct-13 Mar, California, Bowers Museum, 'Queen of Sheba: Legend and Reality'
2002 5 Jun-13 Oct, BM, 'Queen of Sheba: Treasures from ancient Yemen'
1997-2005 Aug-16 Dec, BM, G51/PSA/3
1976-1997 BM, West Stairs: South Arabian Landing [SAL], wall-case 1 [WC1]
- Missing inlaid eyes, one horn, tail and part of base; old cracks in the base and on the underside; slightly loose flap of bronze on the belly which does not adhere to the clay core; old restoration of three broken fragments at the back of the base and a single large fragment at the front of the base
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Deposited 7 December 1970 (deposit book entry 2622); Report of the Trustees 1969-1972, p.49, pl. XIa
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: I.B.c.2 (Antonini 2007a, pp. 175)