Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2001.187
Title
Relief Stamp with Ram's Head
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Jewelry Mold, Ram's head
Classification
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
mold
Date
5th century BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Period
Archaic period to Classical
Culture
Greek
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/146509
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Leaded bronze
Technique
Cast, lost-wax process
Dimensions
2.3 x 3.8 x 1.2 cm (7/8 x 1 1/2 x 1/2 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 88.96; Sn, 6.11; Pb, 4.48; Zn, 0.017; Fe, less than 0.01; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.17; Sb, less than 0.05; As, 0.22; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.011; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is a mottled green, gray, and brown with distinctly visible areas of cupritic corrosion. The details of the head are worn, probably as a result of its use but perhaps also from corrosion and cleaning.

The stamp is a solid cast that was made in one piece. The back is flat, and the outline of the raised ram’s head is distinctly marked. The stamp was probably made by the lost-wax process, judging from the rounded undercut of the ram’s horn.


Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2012)

Provenance
Purchased from Frank L. Kovacs, San Mateo, CA.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, David M. Robinson Fund
Accession Year
2001
Object Number
2001.187
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 irregular, roughly trapezoidal stamp with rounded corners portrays a ram’s head in high relief, facing left. There is a groove paralleling the break or cut at the right end of the image. The ram’s horn is smooth except for a central groove paralleling its curve. The tip of the ear overlaps the horn slightly. The reverse is flat, except for a diagonal furrow across the right side of the surface. It bounds a slightly raised lump-shaped feature that appears to have been formed in casting the object.

This ram’s head in relief appears to have been used for making halves of finials for animal-headed bracelets. These either could have been punched out of sheet metal, or may have been used to form clay molds for casting halves of such objects (1). The modeling of the ram’s head finds numerous parallels in depictions of rams on Greek bronze attachments in the second half of the fifth century BCE; however, an exact parallel has not yet been identified. This stamp could have been made and used anywhere on the Greek mainland, Aegean Islands, or East Greek coastal area. It may reflect Achaemenid influence.

NOTES:

1. A similar finial punch depicting a calf’s head facing right appears in M. Y. Treister, Hammering Techniques in Greek and Roman Jewellery and Toreutics, Colloquia Pontica 8 (Leiden, 2001) 18 and 276, figs. 27-28 and 78.2. The first, in the British Museum, London, inv. no. 128794, is from Kasvin, Iran. The second, a larger stamp, in the Museo Nazionale della Siritide, Policoro, inv. no. 205570, is from Tomb 68 at Heraklea, Lucania.


David G. Mitten

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This irregular, roughly trapezoidal stamp with rounded corners portrays a ram’s head in high relief, facing left. There is a groove paralleling the break or cut at the right end of the image. The ram’s horn is smooth except for a central groove paralleling its curve. The tip of the ear overlaps the horn slightly. The reverse is flat, except for a diagonal furrow across the right side of the surface. It bounds a slightly raised lump-shaped feature that appears to have been formed in casting the object.

This ram’s head in relief appears to have been used for making halves of finials for animal-headed bracelets. These either could have been punched out of sheet metal, or may have been used to form clay molds for casting halves of such objects (1). The modeling of the ram’s head finds numerous parallels in depictions of rams on Greek bronze attachments in the second half of the fifth century BCE; however, an exact parallel has not yet been identified. This stamp could have been made and used anywhere on the Greek mainland, Aegean Islands, or East Greek coastal area. It may reflect Achaemenid influence.

NOTES:

1. A similar finial punch depicting a calf’s head facing right appears in M. Y. Treister, Hammering Techniques in Greek and Roman Jewellery and Toreutics, Colloquia Pontica 8 (Leiden, 2001) 18 and 276, figs. 27-28 and 78.2. The first, in the British Museum, London, inv. no. 128794, is from Kasvin, Iran. The second, a larger stamp, in the Museo Nazionale della Siritide, Policoro, inv. no. 205570, is from Tomb 68 at Heraklea, Lucania.


David G. Mitten

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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