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Gallery Text

Model body parts were offered at healing sanctuaries to thank a god for healing the limb or organ depicted. Large deposits of these anatomical votives include detailed representations of internal organs such as uteruses and intestines. Unlike the terracotta eye and foot, the copper alloy phallus would have been riveted to something, perhaps in a home, for good luck. Romans often wore amulets in the shape of a phallus to ward off the "evil eye."

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Model of a Right Foot
Work Type
4th-2nd century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Iron Age
Level 3, Room 3700, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art, Roman Art
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Physical Descriptions
4.8 x 9.9 x 4.4 cm (1 7/8 x 3 7/8 x 1 3/4 in.)
Walton Brooks McDaniel, New Jersey (by 1943/46), gift; to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1943/46-2012), transfer; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2012.

Note: Walton Brooks McDaniel gave a portion of his collection to the Department of the Classics in 1943 and the rest in 1946. The Collection is named for his late wife, Alice Corinne McDaniel.
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
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The mold-made votive includes only the ankle and foot, along with a sole-like base that follows the outlines of the foot. The toes are elongated and have modeled toenails.

This foot was not originally part of a larger statue. It was instead molded separately, probably in order to serve as a votive object in a sanctuary. Such anatomical votives are thought to have had a connection to healing. A worshipper might dedicate a votive body part to request that the corresponding part of his or her own body be cured, or as a thank-offering after being restored to health.
Publication History

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 Jane Waldbaum, Department of the Classics (unpublished manuscript, 1970), T28, p. 44 [D. W. Roller]

Exhibition History

32Q: 3700 Roman, Harvard Art Museums, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu