Roman Bronze Horse Handle

£ 500.00

A Roman horse head handle fragment cast from bronze. The animal has been carefully and naturalistically rendered to display a long muzzle, with a well-defined bridge of the nose, large eyes and pointed ears. The short mane runs down the back of the neck with small grooves defining the hair and ends in a top knot between the horse’s ears. The neck of the animal emerges from a trefoil of large leaves. The fragment was probably the terminal of an oil lamp handle, curving in towards the body of the lamp. If this is the case, the chain under the trefoil would have probably connected to the lid of the lamp.

The piece has been mounted on a custom-made stand.

Date: Circa 1st-3rd century AD
Condition: Fine condition, the left ear is now missing, patination is visible to the surface.


During the Roman Empire, horses were extremely important for battle, as well as for aspects of everyday life, such as transportation, hunting, farming, and chariot racing. The Romans associated the horse with the spoils of war, connecting it symbolically with power, victory, honour, domination, and virility. In Graeco-Roman mythology and culture, the horse was said to have been created by Neptune (Poseidon) and devoted to Pluto (Hades) and Mars (Ares). The Romans also believed the horse to be a symbol of the continuity of life, and would sacrifice a horse to the god Mars every October, keeping its tail through the winter as a sign of fertility and rebirth.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

Weight 66.7 g
Dimensions L 4 x W 2.5 x H 5 cm



Reference: For a similar item, Sotheby’s Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art Auction, 5th December 2023, lot 44

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