- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Patera Handle with Ram's Head Terminal
- Work Type
- 1st-2nd century CE
- Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
- Roman Imperial period, Middle
- Physical Descriptions
- Cast, lost-wax process
- 13.7 x 3.1 cm (5 3/8 x 1 1/4 in.)
- Technical Details
Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron, silver
K. Eremin, January 2014
Technical Observations: The patina is green, and large areas of underlying red are exposed. At the open end, a loss of half of the back edge reveals that this area is completely mineralized. The surfaces have been crudely scraped to reveal details, and some fine cast detail in the ram’s face has been partly recarved into the red corrosion products. The silver eyes are intact and in good condition.
The handle is a hollow cast, although the degree of corrosion makes it difficult to measure accurately. The walls of the cast along the shaft are relatively thick, c. 3 to 5 mm. The wax model was presumably produced by a mold. The poor condition of the surface makes it impossible to determine whether fine relief details were cast in the wax, worked directly in the wax, or cold worked in the metal. The silver eyes appear to be made by the repoussé technique using a relatively thick sheet of silver.
Henry Lie (submitted 2002)
- Charles Dikran Kelekian, New York, (by 1978), gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1978.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Charles Dikran Kelekian
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This cylindrical patera handle has a molded ram’s head terminal. The end of the handle that would have attached to the vessel is broken, but part of the decoration is visible, consisting of at least three raised rings, two of which may have been beaded. The shaft of the handle is fluted. At the juncture between the shaft and the ram’s head, there are raised bands of decoration consisting of a plain band flanked by two thinner beaded bands. The ram’s head is naturalistic and well modeled. Its horns coil around its ears, the tips of which point out horizontally. Snail-shaped curls of wool cover the top of the head and the neck. Both eyes are inlaid with silver. The snout and nostrils are modeled, while a line indicates the mouth.
This ram’s head and handle belonged to a shallow basin or patera intended for washing hands, usually used with a trefoil oinochoe (1). This type of handled patera persisted for centuries, extending well into the middle Roman Imperial Period (2).
1. For information on types of paterae and contexts of use, see H. U. Nuber, “Kanne und Griffschale: Ihr Gebrauch im täglichen Leben und die Beigabe in Gräbern in der römischen Kaiserzeit,” Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission 53 (1972): 1-232.
2. D. Dunham, “Two Pieces of Furniture from the Egyptian Sudan,” Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 46 (December 1948): 98-101, esp. 100-101, figs. 5-9; M. Comstock and C. C. Vermeule, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Bronzes in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Greenwich, CT, 1971), 457, no. 668, there called “Greco-Roman.” Also compare Boucher and S. Tassinari, Bronzes antiques du Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine a Lyon 1: Inscriptions, statuaire, vaisselle (Lyon, 1976) 120-21 and 124-25, nos. 136-37 and 140-42; Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection 1 (Cleveland, 1981) 183-84, no. 168, with extensive comparative literature and dated to the first and second centuries CE; S. Tassinari, Il vasellame bronzo di Pompei, Ministero per i beni culturali ed ambientali, Soprintendenza archeologica di Pompei 5 (Rome, 1993) 58-60, Type H2311, pls. 90-94; and H. Sedlmayer, Die römischen Bronzegefässe in Noricum, Monographies instrumentum 10 (Montagnac, 1999) 45-47, pl. 19.1-3.
Lisa M. Anderson
- Subjects and Contexts
- Related Works
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