The Moon God Mên
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
The Moon God Mên
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
3rd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Roman Imperial period
Level 3, Room 3700, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art, Roman Art
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Physical Descriptions
17.2 x 10 x 3.4 cm (6 3/4 x 3 15/16 x 1 5/16 in.)
[Sotheby's London, 17 May 1965, Lot 193], sold; to The Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1965-2012), transfer; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2012.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
This intact terracotta statuette depicts the moon god Mên on horseback. Mên sits on the back of the horse, turning his upper body to the right. He wears a Phrygian cap, a cloak over an elaborate tunic or segmented cuirass, and trousers. In his extended right hand is an offering bowl or patera. The ends of a crescent moon are visible behind his shoulders. The horse is shown with its left foreleg raised. It wears a simple bridle; there is a decorative band, perhaps part of a harness, across the chest, but no indication of a saddle. The horse's mane is wavy, in contrast to its tail, which is banded, and the hair of the god, which is depicted in straight strands in a style reminiscent of Alexander the Great. The statuette is rather stylized, with details like the eyes disproportionately large, and other details greatly simplified. Horse and rider are on a rectangular base, shown with a molded band at the top and bottom, perhaps in imitation of life-sized equestrian statue bases. The back of the statuette is relatively featureless, with only the folds of the cloak and details of the horse harness and statue base depicted.

The statuette is hollow and was made with a two-part mold; a circular vent hole is visible on the back.
Mên was a lunar deity worshipped in ancient Asia Minor (modern Turkey), who had a variety of roles, from god of healing to protector of tombs, and was also associated with fertility and the military. He is often shown with a crescent moon behind his shoulders, as here, and a pinecone, although the precise meaning of this attribute is not clear (compare 1964.126).

This terracotta was probably a votive offering; it may have been modeled after a marble equestrian statue of the god with a similar composition known to have been in Galatia (Turkey).
Publication History

Ulrich W. Hiesinger, "Three Images of the God Men", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology (Cambridge, MA, 1966), Vol. 71, pp. 303-310, 307-308, pl. IV, a-b

John Crawford, Sidney Goldstein, George M. A. Hanfmann, John Kroll, Judith Lerner, Miranda Marvin, Charlotte Moore, and Duane Roller, Objects of Ancient Daily Life. A Catalogue of the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection Belonging to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, ed. Jane Waldbaum, Department of the Classics (unpublished manuscript, 1970), T1, p. 33 [D. W. Roller]

E.N. Lane, Corpus Monumentorum Religionis Dei Menis 1: The Monuments and Inscriptions, Leiden (Brill, 1971), p. 89, no. 139, pl. 64.

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Artemis (Zürich, Switzerland, 1999), Vol. 6, Men 99.

Exhibition History

Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Artstor Digital Library

Google Art Project

Related Works
Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted