Ancient Collection

Profile view of Sumerian sculpture of Head of a Ewe, displayed in a temple
Head of a Ewe
Head of a Ewe
Profile view of Sumerian sculpture of Head of a Ewe, displayed in a temple

Head of a Ewe

Sumeria
Protoliterate period (c. 3500–3000 B.C.)
c. 3200 B.C.
Sandstone
5 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 6 1/8 in. (14.6 x 14 x 15.6 cm)
AP 1979.38
This realistic ewe’s head comes from a full sculpture of a sheep that was probably displayed in a temple, but its precise ritualistic purpose is unknown.
Frontal view of Female Figure by Bastis Master from the Early Cycladic Period (c. 2500–2300 B.C.)
Female Figure
Female Figure
Frontal view of Female Figure by Bastis Master from the Early Cycladic Period (c. 2500–2300 B.C.)

Female Figure

Bastis Master
Cycladic (c. 2500–2300 B.C.)
Early Cycladic II phase
c. 2500–2300 B.C.
Marble
16 1/4 x 5 13/16 in. (41.2 x 14.7 cm)
AG 1970.02
This statuette of a female figure was produced by the Early Bronze Age culture that flourished in the Cyclades Islands of Greece in the second half of the third millennium B.C.
Limestone tomb sculpture showing a seated court official accompanied by his wife and son. Inscriptions name the main figure as Ka-nefer and his family. The figures were originally painted and retain much of their color on the hair and eyes, with traces on the skin, garments, and jewelry.
Group Statue of Ka-nefer and His Family
Group Statue of Ka-nefer and His Family
Limestone tomb sculpture showing a seated court official accompanied by his wife and son. Inscriptions name the main figure as Ka-nefer and his family. The figures were originally painted and retain much of their color on the hair and eyes, with traces on the skin, garments, and jewelry.

Group Statue of Ka-nefer and His Family

Egypt, probably Saqqara
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 5 (c. 2465–2323 B.C.)
c. 2465–2323 B.C.
Limestone, with traces of original painted decoration
13 5/8 × 5 3/4 × 8 7/8 in. (34.6 × 14.6 × 22.5 cm)
AP 2005.03
This highly important tomb sculpture shows a seated court official accompanied by his wife and son.
Profile view of Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut in which she grasps a symbolic cobra that supports a sun disk and cowhorns and rests on a base composed of two upraised arms (the hieroglyphic sign for “Ka”)—a magical gesture intended to preserve life and ward off evil
Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut
Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut
Profile view of Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut in which she grasps a symbolic cobra that supports a sun disk and cowhorns and rests on a base composed of two upraised arms (the hieroglyphic sign for “Ka”)—a magical gesture intended to preserve life and ward off evil

Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, Chief Steward of Queen Hatshepsut

Egypt, Temple of Montu (?), Armant
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Hatshepsut, c. 1473-1458 B.C.
c. 1473-1458 B.C.
Gray green schist
16 1/8 x 6 x 12 in. (41 x 15.2 x 30.5 cm)
AP 1985.02
This masterpiece of New Kingdom art portrays Senenmut, the most favored official of the dowager Queen Hatshepsut, who reigned from about 1473–1458 B.C., offering an image of Renenutet, goddess of the harvest and nourishment, on behalf of the well-being of his sovereign and in hopes of eternal blessi
Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II, which shows him holding the traditional insignia of kingship against his chest—the scepter in the form of a crook in his left hand and the flail or whip in his right.
Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II
Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II
Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II, which shows him holding the traditional insignia of kingship against his chest—the scepter in the form of a crook in his left hand and the flail or whip in his right.

Portrait Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep II

Egypt, South Karnak
Dynasty 18, c. 1427–1400 B.C., and Dynasty 19, c. 1279–1213 B.C.
c. 1400 B.C., recarved for Ramesses II (the Great) c. 1250 B.C.
Red granite
40 1/2 x 18 x 15 in. (102.8 x 45.7 x 38.1 cm)
AP 1982.04
This regal figure of Amenhotep II shows him holding the traditional insignia of kingship against his chest—the scepter in the form of a crook in his left hand and the flail or whip in his right.
Cylinder Seal with Griffin (Bull and Lion and Inscription not pictured)
Cylinder Seal with Griffin, Bull and Lion and Inscription
Cylinder Seal with Griffin, Bull and Lion and Inscription
Cylinder Seal with Griffin (Bull and Lion and Inscription not pictured)

Cylinder Seal with Griffin, Bull and Lion and Inscription

Assyria (Iraq)
Middle Assyrian period (c. 1300–1100 B.C.)
c. 1300–1200 B.C.
Stone
H. 1 7/16 in. (3.6 cm); Diam. 11/16 in. (1.7 cm)
AP 2001.03
This seal shows a winged griffin dispatching a bull, before a rampant, snarling lion. Epitomizing Mesopotamia miniature art at its best, the artist has taken great care in defining the musculature, fur, and wings of the creatures, which represent divine forces in Mesopotamian religion.
Blue Chalcedony Cylinder Seal with Winged Genius and Human-headed Bulls. All wear the horned headdress of deities and supernatural beings, and have long curled hair and beards.
Cylinder Seal with Winged Genius and Human-headed Bulls
Cylinder Seal with Winged Genius and Human-headed Bulls
Blue Chalcedony Cylinder Seal with Winged Genius and Human-headed Bulls. All wear the horned headdress of deities and supernatural beings, and have long curled hair and beards.

Cylinder Seal with Winged Genius and Human-headed Bulls

Assyria (Iraq)
Neo-Assyrian period (c. 1000–612 B.C.)
c. 700 B.C.
Blue Chalcedony
H. 1 9/16 in. (4 cm); Diam. 7/8 in. (2.2 cm)
AP 2001.04
This seal shows an Assyrian winged genius between rampant, winged, human-headed bulls. All wear the horned headdress of deities and supernatural beings, and have long curled hair and beards.
Pair of Winged Deities are fragments of two such full-length figures enacting a magic purification or protective ritual, in which winged griffin-demons (apkallu, “sages”) or winged anthropomorphic deities, holding ritual “buckets” and pinecone-shaped objects, flank a “Sacred Tree” that they sprinkle with holy water or pollen.
Pair of Winged Deities
Pair of Winged Deities
Pair of Winged Deities are fragments of two such full-length figures enacting a magic purification or protective ritual, in which winged griffin-demons (apkallu, “sages”) or winged anthropomorphic deities, holding ritual “buckets” and pinecone-shaped objects, flank a “Sacred Tree” that they sprinkle with holy water or pollen.

Pair of Winged Deities

Assyria (Iraq)
Reign of Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 B.C.)
c. 874-860 B.C.
Gypsum
a: 36 1/4 x 27 9/16 in. (92 x 70 cm) b: 35 11/16 x 28 15/16 in. (90.7 x 73.5 cm)
AP 1981.04 a,b
The Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (reigned 883–859 b.c.) at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) is the earliest of the surviving royal residences of the Assyrian kings, lavishly decorated with monumental gateway figures and reliefs, whose discovery in the mid-nineteenth century created a sensation through
This Cylinder Seal with King Holding Two Lions made of chalcedony shows a bearded king holding lions aloft by their hind legs, standing atop a pair of human-headed sphinxes
Cylinder Seal with King Holding Two Lions
Cylinder Seal with King Holding Two Lions
This Cylinder Seal with King Holding Two Lions made of chalcedony shows a bearded king holding lions aloft by their hind legs, standing atop a pair of human-headed sphinxes

Cylinder Seal with King Holding Two Lions

Persia (Iran)
Achaemenian period (539–331 B.C.)
c. 5th century B.C. (reign of Darius)
Chalcedony
H. 1 3/16 in. (3 cm); Diam. 5/8 in. (1.6 cm)
AP 2001.05
This seal shows a bearded king holding lions aloft by their hind legs, standing atop a pair of human-headed sphinxes. On either side of this group is a standing archer, holding a bow and arrows in his hands, standing on a winged griffin.
Detail of upper legs to head of Standing Female. The sculpture is conceived frontally with a flat back
Standing Female
Standing Female
Detail of upper legs to head of Standing Female. The sculpture is conceived frontally with a flat back

Standing Female

Cyprus
Archaic period (700–475 B.C.)
c. 500–475 B.C.
Sandy limestone
18 9/16 x 5 1/16 x 2 1/2 in. (47.2 x 12.8 x 6.4 cm)
AG 1980.02
This serene columnar sculpture may represent a goddess or votary. Conceived frontally with a flat back, the figure holds a flower to her breast with her right hand, while grasping another object at her left side. She wears an elegantly designed headcloth and necklace of Near Eastern origin.
Wreathed Male Head with the idealized facial structure and enigmatic smile resembling contemporary Greek sculpture, while the wide, almond-shaped eyes and tightly knotted curls
Wreathed Male Head
Wreathed Male Head
Wreathed Male Head with the idealized facial structure and enigmatic smile resembling contemporary Greek sculpture, while the wide, almond-shaped eyes and tightly knotted curls

Wreathed Male Head

Cyprus
Archaic period (700–475 B.C.)
c. 500–475 B.C.
Sandstone
6 5/16 x 4 15/16 in. (16 x 12.5 cm)
AP 1972.05
Crowned with a laurel wreath symbolic of victory, this small head was carved during the most creative period of Cypriot art, when the island of Cyprus was a mercantile crossroads between East and West.
Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer is a one-handled oil jug showing Eros, the god of love, in his role of archer. It shows artist’s typical poise and balance while retaining the potentiality for sudden movement: the figure is set frontally, his weight on his right, forward-moving foot, while his head turns back in profile as he draws his bow.
Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer
Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer
Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer is a one-handled oil jug showing Eros, the god of love, in his role of archer. It shows artist’s typical poise and balance while retaining the potentiality for sudden movement: the figure is set frontally, his weight on his right, forward-moving foot, while his head turns back in profile as he draws his bow.

Red-Figure Lekythos Showing Eros in the Role of Archer

Attributed to Brygos Painter
Greek (active c. 490–470 B.C.)
Late Archaic period (500–480 B.C.)
c. 490–480 B.C.
Terracotta
H. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm); Diam. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)
AP 1984.16
The image on this lekythos (one-handled oil jug) marks the earliest known appearance of Eros, the god of love, in his role of archer. It predates by forty to fifty years the representation of the subject on one of the east metopes of the Parthenon.
Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus (exterior) and a Maenad (interior)
Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus (exterior) and a Maenad (interior)

Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus (exterior) and a Maenad (interior)

Douris (painter)

Greek (active c. 500–460 B.C.)

Late Archaic period (500–480 B.C.)

c. 480 B.C.
Terracotta
H. 5 in. (12.7 cm); Diam. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
AP 2000.02

On the exterior of this cup, one of the finest surviving vases of the early Classical period, we witness the gruesome death of Pentheus, a mythical king of Thebes who had offended the god Dionysos by denying his divinity and forbidding his worship.

detail of Young Female Attendant, which shares the ceremonious and solemn air of the maidens from the famous frieze of the Parthenon
Young Female Attendant
Young Female Attendant
detail of Young Female Attendant, which shares the ceremonious and solemn air of the maidens from the famous frieze of the Parthenon

Young Female Attendant

Greece, Attica (?)
Late Classical period (400–300 B.C.)
c. 340–330 B.C.
Marble
46 x 18 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (116.9 x 47 x 26.7 cm)
AP 1972.03
This sculpture is probably one of a group of votary figures that originally accompanied the statue of a goddess. Although it dates from a century later than the maidens from the famous frieze of the Parthenon, it shares their ceremonious and solemn air.
Head of an Athlete (Apoxyomenos), in which the lips were originally overlaid with copper, and the eyes inlaid with stone, glass, and metal
Head of an Athlete (Apoxyomenos)
Head of an Athlete (Apoxyomenos)
Head of an Athlete (Apoxyomenos), in which the lips were originally overlaid with copper, and the eyes inlaid with stone, glass, and metal

Head of an Athlete (Apoxyomenos)

Hellenistic or Roman
probably after Lysippos (Greek, c. 365–c. 310 B.C.)
c. 2nd–1st century B.C.
Cast bronze
11 1/2 × 8 1/4 × 10 3/4 in. (29.2 × 21 × 27.3 cm) With base: 20 1/4 × 8 1/4 × 10 3/4 in. (51.44 × 20.96 × 27.31 cm) Weight: 36.6 lb. (16.6 kg)
AP 2000.03 a,b
This exceptionally fine and rare head comes from the statue of an athlete shown scraping oil from his naked body with a strigil after exercising. The lips were originally overlaid with copper, and the eyes inlaid with stone, glass, and metal.
Crouching Aphrodite shown crouching to bathe. She would have had her head turned sharply to the right, her left arm brought across the body to touch the right thigh, and her right arm held up to near the left breast and shoulder.
Crouching Aphrodite
Crouching Aphrodite
Crouching Aphrodite shown crouching to bathe. She would have had her head turned sharply to the right, her left arm brought across the body to touch the right thigh, and her right arm held up to near the left breast and shoulder.

Crouching Aphrodite

Roman, based on a Greek original of c. 3rd–2nd century B.C.
Late Republican–Early Imperial (1st cent. B.C.–2nd cent. A.D.)
c. 50 B.C.–A.D. 140
Marble
25 x 13 7/8 x 19 3/8 in. (63.5 x 35.3 x 49.2 cm)
AP 1967.09
According to the primal Greek myth recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony (genealogy of the gods), Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was born of the aphros, the foam created when Kronos threw the genitals of his father, Uranos (Heaven), into the sea.

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