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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Box with Hinged Lid
Work Type
6th-7th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Byzantine period, Early
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Mixed copper alloy, lid possibly tinned
2.8 x 7.8 cm (1 1/8 x 3 1/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Mixed Copper Alloy
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead, zinc
Other Elements: iron, nickel, silver, antimony
K. Eremin, February 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is a dark green, red, brown, and black surface. The lid has a grayish surface that may be a white metal, such as tin or silver. The metal is deformed and cracked below the hinge. The bowl was fabricated by hammering and raising from sheet metal with the design chased from the exterior. The lid was probably cast as a billet and then hammered out flat. It has rough marks from finishing, scribed designs, and what looks like a possible plating of tin. The latch and hinge were made from sheet metal attached mechanically with rivets. The pin in the hinge has hammered ends.

An XRF analysis on Aug. 5, 2002 detected zinc on the underside of the lid, indicating it is brass. Tin was detected on top side of lid from the area under the latch, which may indicate that the lid was tinned. It is also possible the tin is in the alloy, although the XRF reading of the underside did not show the same peak.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)


Recorded Ownership History
Hagop Kevorkian collection, gift; to the Fogg Museum, 1975.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of The Hagop Kevorkian Foundation in memory of Hagop Kevorkian
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 container is made up of a convex dish with a flat hinged lid. A geometric design consisting of a radiate star enclosing a circumscribed Greek cross is punched into the surface of the dish. The lid of the box, a flat disc of slightly thicker metal, was attached to the dish with a hinge (now broken) and was originally secured with a clasp. Its edges are decorated with regular triangular notches, and its top is lightly inscribed with a compass-drawn pattern of circles enclosing a six-petal flower. The purpose of this container is unknown, but small boxes like this one could be used in a number of ways, including as cosmetics containers (1).

The provenience of this box cannot be identified definitively (2). The surface design, however, seems typical of sixth- and seventh-century metalwork from the eastern Mediterranean.


1. W. M. F. Petrie, Objects of Daily Use (London, 1927) 38.

2. The piece may instead be Islamic.

Jennifer Floyd

Publication History

  • Ioli Kalavrezou, Byzantine Women and Their World, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 262, fig. 155.

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 3740 Egyptian, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/30/2018 - 05/08/2019

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

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