Object Based Learning

Horse and Rider Figurine


MU3185 is a horse and rider figurine. The piece lacks definitely identifiable features such as the horse’s mane, but other features are discernable. The ears of the horse have not been fully preserved, with the right ear clearly missing the top half. The tail on the back of the horse is short and triangular in shape. The back legs of the horse are triangular in shape and sit on a slight angle protruding from the body of the horse, and whereas the front legs are of a similar make and pose, they are covered from the front by an extension of the horse’s body. The rider which sits upon the horse is very generalised with no discernable facial features, and there are no limbs on the figure; the generalised nature of the rider suggests that this is an early version of the figurine. Fragments of figurines of four-legged animals are the most commonplace figurine type in Judah and Jerusalem formulating part of a larger group of clay figurines. The horse and rider figurine type - such as MU3185 - is common through the southern Levant and continues to be constructed into the Persian period (539–333 BCE). The horse obtained a particular significance in the Late Bronze Age in Near Eastern societies; the horse was first used in infantry-based warfare. The Amarna Letters of this period make clear that horses were one of the most important commodities in the system of royal gift exchange in this period. Horses became the primary animal of transportation, warfare, and acted as symbols of royal status, leading to the proliferation of images of horses in Near Eastern art, such as the example of ceramic horse and rider figurines like MU3185. Although the exact significance of these figurines is unknown, the fact that horses were predominantly reserved for royalty and the military suggests that the horse and rider figurines represent some form of military power, and their commonplace nature implies that military power was an important concern in the Late Bronze Age.


Horse and Rider Figurine
Macquarie University History Museum
Archaeology,Daily Life,Artefact,Greece and the Near East,
Ancient History (Year 11 & 12)
Late Bronze Age
ca. 1500 BCE
Macquarie University, MAC


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Macquarie University History Museum (2024). Horse and Rider Figurine, MU3185. //sveltekit-prerender/artefacts/horse_and_rider_figurine/ (accessed on: Tue Apr 16 2024).

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