Here is my most recent acquisition. But it isnít all mineÖin fact, Iíve split the lot with my close friend and co-author, Taras. These were described in the Christiesí catalog as Etruscan situla fittings, each depicting Achelous. Note the lack of horns, common among Near Eastern representations of lamassus, or winged man-faced bulls, which find a place on some issues of Greek coinage. It is unclear if the original artist intended Achelous or a lamassus, since Achelous evolved from the lamassu tradition and the transmission took place over hundreds of years. Perhaps he intended both: Achelous in the form of a lamassu.
These were likely found in a grave, since we know situlas were often placed in graves with ritual offerings, and the man-faced bull is very often found in graves and was worshiped as a chthonic, liminar deity, for thousands of years. The man-faced bullís association with water, which the situla likely contained, reinforces this point. Altogether the fittings are extremely important for our study because they occur at an important time in the history of the transmission of the iconography from east to west, and still contain the clearly eastern iconographic element of wings. A dealer once said to me, when giving me a great deal on a coin, "sometimes coins just belong with certain people." I think these belonged with us, at least for now
In order to determine who gets which one, we decided to roll a translucent blue icosahedron (the icosahedron was an ancient symbol of water in, e.g., Platoís Timaeus).
A Pair of Etruscan Situla Fittings, circa 5th Century B.C. Bronze, 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm) high for the taller. Each depicting a man-faced bull, possibly Achelous, their faces similar but not identical, with short wings projecting from the sides of the head incised with two rows of parallel lines at the edges, the center with a feather pattern, each wing preserving the original rivet for attachment, the bearded god with long pointed ears, almond-shaped eyes, prominent moustache and full lips, wearing a cap surmounted by a ring for the attachment of the handle, each preserving part of the vessel wall. Modern pinholes in reverse for mounting. Ex S. Donati, Lugano 1982; Ex. Christies Sale 9666, lot 52.http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-118918