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Bull Figurine

Bull Figurine

Syria, 2000-1750 B.C.E.
  • Clay: hand-formed, pierced, slipped, and fired
  • 3 3/16 x 1 7/8 x 2 7/8 in. (8.1 x 4.8 x 7.3 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Betty and Max Ratner Collection, 1981-156
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Bull Figurine

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This clay figurine is just a few inches high. The function of this small sculpture and others like it is not certain, but they could represent the animals often associated with Syrian or Canaanite gods. They might therefore have been used as religious offerings or symbols in shrines, homes, or elsewhere.

Discuss:

  • What does this figurine look like to you?
  • How do you think it was made?
  • What do you think it could have been used for? Why do you say that?
  • Archaeologists believe this figurine might have been associated with an ancient Syrian or Canaanite god. What other kinds of evidence might support that idea?


Horse Figurine

Horse Figurine

Israel, 1000-586 B.C.E.
  • Clay: hand-formed, incised, and fired
  • 3 15/16 x 1 1/2 x 5 15/16 in. (10 x 3.8 x 15.1 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Betty and Max Ratner Collection, 1981-223
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Horse Figurine

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Horse figurines are among the most common animal figures found in the land of Israel during the Iron Age. They are often associated with female pillar figurines, model couches and bird figurines, and may have been used in non-mainstream worship by Israelites. Most recently, the female pillar figurines have been tentatively identified as the pagan goddess Asherah, and the other figures found with them could be associated with her as well. But we do not know how exactly they functioned.

Discuss:

  • What does this figurine look like to you?
  • How do you think it was made?
  • What do you think it could have been used for? Why do you say that?
  • Compare this object with the Canaanite or Syrian bull figurine [link]. How are the two objects similar or different? Explain the similarities.
  • Archaeologists believe this figurine might have been used by Israelites for rituals that were not part of the mainstream Israelite religion. What other kinds of evidence might support that idea?