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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1969.177.18
Title
Cymbal
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Disc Fragment with Repousse Animals
Classification
Musical Instruments
Work Type
musical instrument
Date
mid 13th-early 10th century BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Luristan (Iran)
Period
Iron Age
Culture
Iranian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/304186
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Bronze
Technique
Repoussé
Dimensions
overall: h. 13.3 cm (5 1/4 in.)
center hole: diam. 0.7 cm (1/4 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron, arsenic
K. Eremin, January 2014

Chemical Composition: SEM-WDS data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 89.0; Sn, 10.3; Pb, nd; Zn, 0.06; Fe, 0.29; Ni, nd; Ag, nd; Sb, nd; As, 0.23; Co, nd
Comments: Copper (iron) sulfide inclusions.

R. Newman, June 2015

Technical Observations: The surface is overall covered with a layer of mottled green, blue, and gray-black matte corrosion, which has been worn or flaked off in places to reveal a shiny cupritic brownish-red and silvery-gray metallic surface. The umbo is pierced in the center with a round hole, and the metal is very thin at this point. In other areas, the thin metal has broken off or worn completely through. About one-sixth of the edge is missing. A large, elongated bump corresponds to a scratch and dent on the back, which was created either during excavation or after, as the metal in the scratch is a shiny metallic color.

This object is formed from a thin, hammered sheet of metal. The decorative elements on the wide flange are crudely made by repoussé, using a pointed punch. The central umbo is raised, with a sharp line delineating the transition from the flange. The corrosion layers make it difficult to discern tool marks relating to the basic formation of the object. The edge of the flange is finely finished and slightly thicker; it bears a rope-like pattern that was created using fine diagonal strokes made with a thin flat-ended chisel. On one section of the extant edge, the metal appears to have been hammered too thin, and two flaps of excess metal have been overlaid and both pierced with a corresponding hole, perhaps to hold the edges together. There are three other similarly sized, evenly spaced small holes in the piece that correspond to repoussé dots, but it is unclear whether they were functional or merely a result from wear.


Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2012)

Provenance
Harry J. Denberg, New York, NY (by 1969), gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1969.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Harry J. Denberg
Accession Year
1969
Object Number
1969.177.18
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This thin, hammered sheet-metal roundel, probably a cymbal, has a hollow hemispherical umbo with a central hole. The flange is decorated with repoussé dots creating a frieze of four stylized stags running along a ground line perimeter. The edge of the flange is finely milled. About 20% of the edge is missing, and some of the repoussé dots have corroded through.

The pierced umbo, the primary indication that this object was a cymbal, allowed the disc to be attached to a handle (1). Similar objects, found singularly and in pairs, have been excavated in northwestern Iran, and many more have been attributed to this region (2). Cymbals of similar types are known from ancient Near Eastern and Classical contexts.

NOTES:

1. See P. R. S. Moorey, Catalogue of the Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1971) 247-50; O. W. Muscarella, Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1988) 205-206, no. 315; and G. Zahlhaas, Luristan: Antike Bronzen aus dem Iran, Ausstellungskataloge der Archäologischen Staatssammlung 33 (Munich, 2002) 120-21, nos. 252-53.

2. See Moorey 1971 (supra 1) 247-48, nos. 467-75, pls. 72-73; E. O. Negahban, Marlik: The Complete Excavation Report, University Museum Monograph 87 (Philadelphia, 1996) 286 and 313-14, nos. 891 and 979-81, pls. 129 and 140; id., Weapons from Marlik (Berlin, 1995) 93-94, pls. 14-15; J. Rickenbach, Magier mit Feuer und Erz: Bronzekunst der frühen Bergvölker in Luristan, Iran (Zurich, 1992) 203, no. 232; and Zahlhaas 2002 (supra 1) 120-21, nos. 252-53.


Amy Gansell

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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 am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu