© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1984.711
Title
Mirror Disc
Classification
Mirrors
Work Type
mirror
Date
1st century BCE-2nd century CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Period
Roman period
Culture
Roman
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/304388
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Copper alloy
Technique
Cast, lost-wax process
Dimensions
11.4 x 0.2 cm (4 1/2 x 1/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is dark green with spots of red; areas of bright metal are preserved. Except for several disfiguring scratches and scrapes on the polished side, the surface is in very good condition and even retains most of its corrosion products. The center punch mark has been altered by the cleaning process.

The mirror was cast by the lost-wax process. A center punch mark and circular incised lines indicate that the surface was decorated and finished using a lathe. The incised lines appear to be the result of cutting away (engraving) the metal, rather than merely pressing the line into the metal. Modern scrape marks on the polished side reveal a yellow alloy underling the white metal surface. This white upper layer may be the result of adding tin to the surface prior to finishing the polishing process. The white metal finish can be seen to wrap around to the other side in some areas. The patterns of two palmette-shaped leaves (2.3 cm wide) are visible as areas with fewer corrosion products near the edge on the non-polished side. They could be related to a handle attachment, now lost. There is another lighter colored area approximately opposite the two leaves, which is an accretion and does not appear to be related to an attachment.


Henry Lie (submitted 2001)

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. Beatrice Kelekian in memory of her husband, Charles Dikran Kelekian
Accession Year
1984
Object Number
1984.711
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 mirror disc may once have had a handle, like 2002.233 (1). The exterior is decorated with inscribed concentric circles around a central dot. The reflecting surface is slightly convex; around the outer rim on this side, its surface is still reflective in places, although it is obscured near the center of the disc.

NOTES:

1. Compare mirror and handle fragments in E. Riha, Römisches Toilettgerät und medizinische Instrumente aus Augst und Kaiseraugst, Forschungen in Augst 6 (Augst, 1986) 13-14, nos. 8-20, pls. 2-3.

Lisa M. Anderson

Exhibition History

Byzantine Women and Their World, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/25/2002 - 04/28/2003

Subjects and Contexts

Roman Domestic Art

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