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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Tunic Ornament: Two Hunters Battling Lions
Textile Arts
Work Type
5th-6th century
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Egypt (Ancient)
Byzantine period, Early
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Wool and linen
12.7 x 10.16 cm (5 x 4 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Denman W. Ross
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Square panel from a linen cloth, tapestry-woven in black wool and undyed linen thread. Areas of plain woven linen are visible on the edges of the square. A circle encloses two men on foot fighting felines. The upper cat is a maned lion, and the lower cat has spots. The human figures, partially nude with large eyes, lung forward with a spear or sword. The lower human figure sports a top knot. Spandrels formed by the circle and square are filled with vine scrolls. The flying shuttle technique adds detail to the figures and vines in an undyed thread.

The square has been stitched down onto a fabric support.
The subject matter of this tapestry square is similar to the silk samite from Egypt in the collection of the Katoen Natie (no. 795), which has been radiocarbon dated to the 3-4th century (95.4% probability). [1] Another fragment from the same silk samite is in the Royal Scottish Museum [2]; and two other fragments are in the Newark Museum [3]. The figural style of this square is similar to that of two orbiculi in the Museum der Kulturen Basel inv. III 17056 and III 17068. These show heroes defeating barbarians or Amazons.

[1] Van Strydonck M, Antoine De Moor, D Bénazeth. “14C dating compared to art historical dating of Ro¬man and Coptic textiles from Egypt.” Radiocarbon 46.1 (2004): 231–244.
[2] J. Bourriau. "Egyptian antiquities acquired in 1975 by museums in the United Kingdom. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 63 (1977):171–174.
[3] S.H. Auth. "Coptic Art." The Newark Museum Quarterly 29.2 (1978):10–11.
Exhibition History

32Q: 3740 Egyptian, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/21/2016 - 06/01/2017

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at