Bronze head of a griffin

Date: third quarter of the 7th century B.C.

Culture: Greek

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: H. 10 3/16 in. (25.8 cm)

Classification: Bronzes

Credit Line: Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971

Accession Number: 1972.118.54


Bronze cauldrons set on tripods or conical stands were among the most spectacular votive gifts dedicated in Greek sanctuaries from the eighth to the sixth centuries B.C. Cast-bronze griffins' heads often decorated the cauldron rims; they projected outward from the shoulder of the vessel on long necks made of hammered or cast bronze. Some of the dedicated cauldrons were colossal. The Greek historian Herodotus describes one made for King Kroisos of Lydia that could hold 2,700 gallons and another dedicated on the island of Samos that was supported by huge kneeling figures. Over six hundred bronze griffins' heads from cauldrons are known today; most have been found at the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia or at that of Hera on Samos. This enormous head is one of the finest.