- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Phallic Amulet with Snail-Shell Testicles
- Work Type
- Creation Place: Unidentified Region
- Unidentified culture
- Persistent Link
- Physical Descriptions
- Cast, lost-wax process
- 4.2 cm (1 5/8 in.)
- Technical Details
Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloying Elements: copper, zinc
Other Elements: tin, lead, iron
K. Eremin, January 2014
Technical Observations: The object is very well preserved, and there is no significant corrosion present. It is probably not ancient. The patina is black and brown with spots of green. It was probably cast from a model made directly in wax.
Henry Lie (submitted 2012)
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of David and Genevieve Hendin
- 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 amulet consists of a phallus with molded testicles in the shape of snail shells topped by a small suspension loop. The shell-testicles have a spiral pattern with raised ridges, and the center of each spiral is the widest point of the shell. The head is modeled and flattened at the tip; there is a raised seam on the underside of the phallus.
Although phallic amulets are common finds from the Roman world, this piece is modern. While no exact parallels for this type are known, it is very similar in style to the winged amulet, 1995.844.11 (1).
1. Compare P. Lebel, Catalogue des collections archéologiques de Besançon 5: Les bronzes figurés (Paris, 1961) 54, no. 152, pl. 61.3; M. Veličković, Rimska sitna bronzana plastika u Narodnom muzeju = Petits bronzes figurés romains au Musée National, Antika 4 (Belgrade, 1972) 195, no. 156; and N. Franken, “Die antiken Bronzen im Römisch-Germanischen Museum Köln: Die Fragmente von Grossbronzen und die figürlichen Bronzegeräte,” Kölner Jahrbuch 29 (1996): 7-203, esp. 196, no. 274, fig. 405.
Lisa M. Anderson
- Subjects and Contexts
- Related Works
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