Standing bull

Date: ca. mid-1st millennium B.C.

Geography: Southwestern Arabia

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: H. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Sculpture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1947

Accession Number: 47.100.85


By the middle of the first millennium B.C., kingdoms had emerged in southern Arabia based on a monopoly of two of the most prized materials of ancient times, frankincense and myrrh, which are native to the region. Every temple and wealthy home in the Mediterranean and Near East burnt these incense resins on altars. Saba was initially the most important kingdom but others, such as Qataban and Ma'in, grew to rival it in power.

Bronze castings of large sculptures, as well as smaller objects, were made through most of the first millennium B.C. and the early centuries A.D. in southwestern Arabia. Among the types of animal images, bulls—a symbol of strength and potency—are the most common and can be found on funerary stelae, seals, and sculptures of the period.