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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Part of a Box Mirror
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Mirror Case
Work Type
mirror cover
mid 4th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Classical period, Late
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
12.3 x 0.9 cm (4 13/16 x 3/8 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The outer surface of 1895.241.A preserves thick, hard lumps of tan and white burial accretions. The patina is green and brown, and in a few areas, the shiny metal surface shows through. The inner surface is much smoother, with a finer, lighter green corrosion layer interrupted by splotches of a darker, sparkling brown corrosion. The outer surface of 1895.241.B is coated almost entirely with a compact, mottled green and tan layer with a few small areas of darker cupritic reddish brown. Near the outer edge on one side, the bare shiny metal is exposed. The inner surface is more heavily encrusted with green, grayish-blue, brown, and tan materials. Some of these have formed into a striated, fibrous texture that is probably a pseudomorph of an organic material whose fibers are slightly out of alignment, which would suggest something like papyrus rather than wood. Much of the metal surfaces of both pieces is concealed by corrosion and burial accretions. Most of the pieces assembled under 1895.241 have at least a few small crystalline black growths of copper sulfide that result from post-excavation storage conditions.

1895.241.A and 1895.241.B were cast by the lost wax process. It is not clear whether the circular moldings and raised ridges that decorate them were already present in the wax and enhanced in the metal, or if they were cut directly into the metal using a caliper-like tool that left a pin-sized hole in the center of each piece. The crisp outlines are evidence that the features were worked in the metal. The guilloche pattern on the outside of 1895.241.A was probably already present in the wax stage. The rim has a cut-out step (c. 37 x 2 mm), which probably accommodated a hinge. No evidence of an attachment remains.

Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2012)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Professor C.E. Norton and Richard Norton
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 disc is one part of a hinged box mirror (Klappspiegel), probably the bottom half. On the exterior, the metallic surface is exposed on part of the edge. There is a slight vertical rim with a convex fillet. The interior has a slightly raised boss with central depression surrounded by three zones of alternating convex and concave moldings, all bounded by very fine ridges. Striations in the light brown corrosion products suggest contact with an organic substance, perhaps wood or cloth, which formed a pseudomorph. The scheme of shallow concentric concave and convex moldings corresponds almost exactly with the same disposition of concentric elements inside the other half of the box.

David G. Mitten

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

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