Identification and Creation
Object Number
1978.523
Title
Patera Handle with Ram's Head Terminal
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
handle
Date
1st-2nd century CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Period
Roman Imperial period, Middle
Culture
Roman
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Bronze
Technique
Cast, lost-wax process
Dimensions
13.7 x 3.1 cm (5 3/8 x 1 1/4 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Bronze
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)

Provenance
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
1978
Object Number
1978.523
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

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).

NOTES:

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

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

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