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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Figure of ibex

ca. 5th century B.C.
Southwestern Arabia
H. 5 1/16 × W. 1 1/2 × D. 2 15/16 in. (12.8 × 3.8 × 7.4 cm) Base: W. 1 5/16 in. × D. 2 5/16 in. (3.3 × 5.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Alastair Bradley Martin, 1953
Accession Number:
Not on view
This bronze ibex stands on a base. Its distinctive long horns turn back to touch the upright ears. The ibex was the most widely represented animal in southwestern Arabian art. Ritual ibex hunts were an important feature of the cult practices of the southwestern Arabian kingdoms. Successfully capturing and killing these elusive creatures was believed to secure favors from the gods.

This sculpture may have served as a handle for an incense burner similar to one in the Museum’s collection (MMA 49.71.2). From the middle of the first millennium B.C. until the sixth century A.D., the kingdoms of southwestern Arabia gained considerable wealth and power through their control of the trade in incense between Arabia and the lands of the Mediterranean seacoast. Frankincense and myrrh, gum resins that are native to southern Arabia, were widely valued in the ancient world for the preparation of incense, perfumes, cosmetics, and medicines, as well as for use in religious and funerary ceremonies.
From 1949, on loan by Alastair Bradley Martin to the Museum (L.49.3); acquired by the Museum in 1953, gift of Alastair Bradley Martin, The Guennol Collection, Glen Head, NY.

“The Book and the Spade (Biblical Archaeological Exhibition).” University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies, April 13, 1975–May 4, 1975.

"Additions to the Collections." Eighty-Fourth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Year 1953, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (1) (Summer 1954), p. 17.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 1988. Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 355, no. 477.
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