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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Handle Ornamented with Head or Mask Attachment Plate
Work Type
late 3rd-1st century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Hellenistic period to Early Roman Imperial
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
16.9 x 8.5 x 6.5 cm (6 5/8 x 3 3/8 x 2 9/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 77.12; Sn, 4.29; Pb, 18.26; Zn, 0.006; Fe, 0.01; Ni, 0.11; Ag, 0.04; Sb, 0.05; As, 0.1; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.019; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is green with areas of black and some brown accretions. Corrosion products obscure some surface detail, but most of the surface is visible and in good condition. A partial treatment to remove brown accretions from the face may be responsible for the bright green color of this area. Areas of black surface are copper sulfide corrosion products resulting from a post-excavation storage environment.

The handle is a solid cast in a single piece. The relief decoration and incised lines on the face and on the top appear to have been executed in the wax model, and there is no evidence of cold working. There is no indication of the method of attachment to the vessel.

Henry Lie

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, Gift of Oric Bates
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
The face on the attachment plate for this handle is obscured by heavy corrosion and accretions, but it seems to depict an older satyr with a long curling beard (1). The left ear, large and curving, is visible, while the right is obscured or partially missing. The underside of the attachment plate is slightly concave. Above the head there is a section of curvilinear decoration with a volute on both sides and a raised horizontal band above. The gripping portion of the handle is flat on the underside, rhomboidal in section, and curves outward slightly until it reaches the portion that connected with the vessel’s rim, which it meets at almost a right angle. The upper vessel attachment plate is also flat on the underside, where it would have been in contact with the rim. It has a curving boomerang shape, with two small volutes curving forward on the front. The top is decorated with a molded protrusion.


1. A handle with a similar attachment plate, although more elaborate than the Harvard example, is published in M. P. Bini, G. Caramella, and S. Buccioli, I bronzi etruschi e romani, Materiali del Museo archeologico nazionale di Tarquinia 13 (Rome, 1995) 49-50, no. 87, pl. 33.3.a-d (dated to the end of the third century BCE).

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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