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Thorsten Opper

Greek bronze statue of the early 5th century bc from the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi (h. 1.8 m; Delphi, Archaeol. Mus.; see fig.). The Charioteer was discovered in 1896 together with bronze fragments of a horse team and chariot, the arm of a further, smaller figure (an outrider or groom) and an inscribed base block of Pentelic marble, all of which seem to have belonged to the same monument. A young man, the charioteer is clad in a xystis, the long, short-sleeved tunic typical of his profession, the long vertical folds of which highlight the statue's plain, column-like character. While the Charioteer stands erect, with his feet close together and his weight evenly distributed, his entire body turns to the right in an unusual, gradual spiral movement, perhaps an indication that the figure was meant to be seen in a three-quarter profile from the right. The statue was cast in seven main pieces, possibly in the direct lost-wax technique; only the left arm is now missing. Finer details were added in different materials (glass paste, black stone and brown onyx for the eyes, copper for eyelashes and lips, silver for the teeth, copper and silver for the inlaid meander pattern of the hair band). The remains of the dedicatory inscription (‘Polyzalos erected me… Make him prosper, glorious Apollo’) are essential for narrowing down the date and historical context of the monument. It seems likely that the ...

Article

Timothy Taylor

Silver vessel of the 2nd–1st centuries bc, found in 1891 in a peat bog at Gundestrup, Jutland, Denmark. The Gundestrup Cauldron (Copenhagen, Nmus.) is arguably the finest and most fascinating example of toreutic (chased or repoussé) silverwork in the Thracian and Dacian art tradition. A large, partly gilded silver vessel measuring 400 mm high×690 mm in diameter, the cauldron comprises a hemispherical bowl with vertical sides constructed from 13 plates covered with detailed figural scenes executed in the Thracian ‘Animal style’, its surfaces densely packed with representations of elephants, lions, dolphins, stags, snakes, griffins, hunters and deities. There are five long rectangular inner plates with inward-facing scenes and seven squarer outer plates; these do not enclose the entire circumference, and a missing eighth plate is presumed. A circular plate generally known as the base plate was probably once part of a lid.

When discovered, the cauldron was in a dismantled state, with the plates stacked together inside the bowl, and it was ascertained that it had been left on solid ground and that the bog had grown over it. These two observations suggest that, rather than having been a ritual or votive deposit in the manner of much prehistoric Scandinavian metalwork, the cauldron had been hidden, perhaps in long grass, by someone who intended to return for it. The cauldron has been the subject of controversy since the time of its discovery, although its date of manufacture is generally agreed to lie within the period ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Treasure hoard consisting of more than 15,000 coins (both gold and silver), gold jewellery, and silver tableware, mainly from the 4th century AD, found in 1992 at Hoxne (pronounced ‘Hoxon’), in Suffolk, and now in the British Museum, London. The latest datable coins in the hoard were minted in AD 407/8, so the treasure must have been buried in the closing years of the Roman period, early in the 5th century. The treasure seems to have been buried in a wooden chest and small caskets, for which small silver padlocks survive. The jewellery consists of a necklace, a body-chain, finger rings, and bracelets. The silverware consists of some 100 spoons and ladles; the only indication of the larger pieces that must have been part of the collection (like the plates in the Mildenhall Treasure) is a silver handle (in the shape of a female tiger) that must have been one of a pair attached to a large vessel such as a silver amphora or vase....

Article

Eric de Waele

[Pers. Luristăn]

Region of Iran, near the border with Iraq, which has given its name to a remarkable series of ancient bronze objects, especially those produced between c. 1200 and 600 bc .

Luristan is situated in the central part of the Zagros mountain range, which runs north-west to south-east along Iran’s frontier with Iraq. The region can be divided into two parts: to the west is the Pusht-i Kuh (‘behind the mountain’), which descends towards the plains of Mesopotamia and Susiana, while to the east, at a higher altitude, lies the Pish-i Kuh (‘before the mountain’). Nomadic Lurs inhabit its high, fertile valleys.

The nomads who lived in the valleys of Luristan in antiquity were shepherds, horse-breeders, hunters and warriors. It is not known what they were called, for they have left no written sources, and suggestions that they might have been Kassites or Cimmerians must be rejected. They should perhaps be equated with the Ellipi, whose kingdom was overthrown by the Medes in ...

Article

Bent Nielsen

[Ning-hsiang]

County in Hunan Province, China, west of the city of Changsha. Several remarkable bronze vessels and bells of the late Shang Anyang phase (c. 1300–c. 1050 bc; see China, People’s Republic of, §VII, 3, (ii)) were at various times discovered in the ground or in watercourses in the vicinity of the town of Huangcai in Ningxiang County. Although the site is of the Anyang phase chronologically, the bronzes found there differ stylistically from Anyang bronzes.

In 1938 a bronze vessel of the fang zun (square wine vessel) type weighing 34.5 kg was found. The vessel is cast entirely within the tradition of the Anyang phase except for a ram protruding from each corner. The heads, necks, chests and forelegs of the rams are modelled with considerable attention to detail and realism, although they incorporate conventional surface decoration. On the shoulder of the vessel, that is on the rams’ backs, horned dragons lie curled, while stylized birds adorn part of the rams’ bodies. (A similar Anyang-phase bronze ...

Article

Elizabeth B. Smith

Italian Benedictine abbey in the Abruzzo region. Founded in the 9th century by Emperor Louis the Pious (reg 814–40) and dedicated to St Clement I, whose relics it claimed, the abbey flourished under Abbot Leonate (reg 1155–82), a member of the papal curia. Leonate began an ambitious rebuilding project starting with a new façade, complete with rose window, and a portico for the church, both of which were decorated with monumental stone sculpture carved by masters who were probably not local but rather of French or north Italian origin, perhaps on their way to or from the Holy Land. An elaborately carved pulpit and paschal candelabrum also date to the time of Leonate, as does the Chronicon Casauriense (Paris, Bib. N., MS. lat. 5411), a compilation of documents pertinent to the abbey combined with a history of its existence up to the time of Leonate’s death. Although Leonate died before completing his rebuilding programme, his successor Joel installed the bronze doors still on the central portal of the façade. Construction continued on the church in the early 13th century....

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....