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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Jug Handle, Terminating in a Lotus Bud
Work Type
mid 4th-mid 3rd century BCE or later
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Classical period to Hellenistic
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
12.4 x 8.7 x 6.6 cm (4 7/8 x 3 7/16 x 2 5/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 62.05; Sn, 5.04; Pb, 32.02; Zn, 0.002; Fe, 0.01; Ni, 0.04; Ag, 0.56; Sb, 0.09; As, 0.18; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.008; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is green with areas of dark green. The surfaces that would have been in contact with the vessel have dark gray and white minerals, which may be related to the lead used to attach the handle. Although the lighter green in recessed areas gives the surface a suspicious appearance, deep layers of corrosion are present, and red (probably cuprite) is an underlying feature in many areas.

The handle is intact; the bronze is a solid cast, probably from a wax model made using a mold. Although the surface is poorly preserved in the corrosion products, the relief decoration does not appear to have much fine detail. It is likely there was little or no cold work.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. Fred B. Lund
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 handle belonged to a rather squat vessel with a bulbous body and wide, probably circular, mouth. An acanthus tendril with two symmetrical leaves shoots downward from a wide fillet at the base of the handle. A central spike-shaped leaf fills the space between these leaves. From this base two larger leaves, whose inner details are mostly obscured, curve outward to form the base of the attachment. Because no rivets or holes are visible, the handle must have been attached to the vessel by solder.

The underside of the handle and its widening extension to the mouth of the vessel are flat. The upper part of the handle consists of a central, raised spool-like attachment with a depressed center. This attachment is flanked on either side by stylized duck heads. The duck heads emerge from two leaf-like forms that end in rounded knobs.

The naturalistic forms of the acanthus leaves, the duck heads, and the presence of the spool suggest a date for this handle somewhere between 350 and 250 BCE. Parallels for such handles occur on bronze vessels in Macedonian tombs of the second half of the fourth and first half of the third centuries BCE and in the Roman period (1).


1. Compare Roman examples in S. Boucher, Vienne: Bronzes antiques, Inventaire des collections publiques françaises 17 (Paris, 1971) 146, no. 286; and M. P. Bini, G. Caramella, and S. Buccioli, I bronzi etruschi e romani, Materiali del Museo archeologico nazionale di Tarquinia 13 (Rome, 1995) 54, no. 101, pl. 36.2.a-b.

David G. Mitten

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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