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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Wine Strainer
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
5th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Etruria
Archaic period to Classical
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

6.3 x 26.3 x 12.1 x 0.1 cm (2 1/2 x 10 3/8 x 4 3/4 x 1/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: iron, arsenic
Comments: The strainer bowl and handle have the same elements.
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is light and dark green with underlying red; there are several small areas of blue, notably around the rivet heads on the interior. The surface is well preserved in most areas. Light green spots are the result of chloride corrosion (bronze disease).

Although no hammer marks are visible, there are irregularities in the shape and thickness of the various sections of the bowl indicating that it was probably raised rather than cast. The perforated strainer section is the thinnest area at only 0.5 mm thick, which is a thinness that would be difficult to cast. The holes were pushed through the thin metal of the strainer section from the interior. The handle was also formed by cold working. The terminals of the rod forming the handle were flattened and incised to create the hand and fingers. Copper alloy rivets through the hands secure them to the bowl. A lump of iron corrosion products on the top loop of the handle is adhered there with copper and iron corrosion that formed during long-term burial.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)


Recorded Ownership History
[Hesperia Art, Philadelphia] 1962, sold; to the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University, (1962-2012) transfer; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2012.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University
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 strainer consists of two parts, a bowl and a wavy handle with hand-shaped terminals (1). The bowl of the strainer is one piece of metal with varying thickness. The rim is beveled on the exterior and interior. The strainer portion of the bowl is of extremely thin metal, protruding out from the center of the bowl in a spherical, bulbous shape. The holes in the strainer are neatly arranged and evenly spaced; while none is more than 1 mm in diameter, they decrease in size closer to the center of the sphere.

The handle is formed of one piece of metal. It attaches to the bowl with two terminals shaped like hands with elongated fingers and normal-sized thumbs. The terminals are riveted to the bowl (the rivet is visible on the interior and exterior). "Arms" extend away from the hands in a wavy line, curving at the terminal of the handle. On the interior of the terminal loop of the handle is a brown accretion of cylindrical shape.

Strainers were used to filter sediments from wine (2). This strainer shows the level of craftsmanship that went into creating such objects, which could serve both utilitarian and ritual functions. The handle terminals in the shape of hands represent a popular Etruscan anthropomorphic decorative motif. Strainers appear on red-figure vases, usually paired with ladles (3).


1. An essentially identical strainer is in the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz; see A. Naso, I bronzi etruschi e italici del Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (Mainz, 2003) 103-104, no. 155, pl. 56, with additional comparanda (dated to the end of the sixth to mid-fifth centuries BCE). See also S. Boucher and S. Tassinari, Bronzes antiques du Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine a Lyon 1: Inscriptions, statuaire, vaisselle (Lyon, 1976) 112, no. 126; M. P. Bini, G. Caramella, and S. Buccioli, I bronzi etruschi e romani, Materiali del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Tarquinia 13 (Rome, 1995) 75-78, pl. 44.1-3; C. Tarditi, Vasi di bronzo in area Apula: Produzioni greche ed italiche di età arcaica e classica, Università di Lecce Dipartmento di Beni Culturali Settore storico-Archeologico Collina 8 (Lecce, 1996) 54-56 and 143, nos. 100-102; and A. Caravale, Museo Claudio Faina di Orvieto: Vasellame (Milan, 2006) 96-97, no. 164.

2. See D. K. Hill, “Wine Ladles and Strainers from Ancient Times,” The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 5 (1942): 40-55.

3. See the symposium scene on the exterior of a red-figure kylix attributed to Makron in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. no. 20.246, with a ladle and a strainer hanging from a stand between couches of celebrants; J. R. Mertens, How to Read Greek Vases (New York, 2010) 116-20, no. 23.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

  • David Gordon Mitten, "Two New Bronze Objects in the McDaniel Collection", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology (1965), Vol. 69, pp. 163-67, p. 163-64, pl. 1
  • John Crawford, Sidney Goldstein, George M. A. Hanfmann, John Kroll, Judith Lerner, Miranda Marvin, Charlotte Moore, and Duane Roller, Objects of Ancient Daily Life. A Catalogue of the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection Belonging to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, ed. Jane Waldbaum, Department of the Classics (unpublished manuscript, 1970), M129, p. 188 [J. S. Crawford]
  • Antonella D'Ascoli, "Mediterranean", Journal of Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Archaeology (2014), No. 1, 7-10, pp. 8-9, fig. 3.

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/20/2018 - 02/05/2019
  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/2021 - 01/02/2022

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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