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Roman Bird tip distaff
Bronze Roman distaff

Long pin with bird (dove) on tip, finial on stem

86mm x 4mm; tip 12mm x 12mm

6.92g

Pannonia

3-6th century AD

Often described on ebay and by dealers as a senatorial voting stick. This description is completely unfounded and is likely a distaff for spinning thread.

From Shawn Caza:

According to Madgearu these bird-head/ring-bottom sticks are likely distaffs for spinning thread, though they may be a form of hair pin. The bird at top is usually thought to be a dove. They have been found all along the Rhine and Danube Limes, in Spain, in Switzerland and in the Near East. In many old works they were usually dated to the 5th-6th c AD. However, Madgearu reports on one which has been contextually dated to the mid-3rd c AD - buried in a Romanian site destroyed in AD 245. It is thought that they are the later Christian version of earlier sticks, often in bone, with Venus at the top. The dove was a representation of Venus that was then retained as a representation of the Holy Ghost in Christian times. Madgearu then lists 25 different archaeological finds of these sticks. These are dated, when known, to the 4th - 6th c AD.

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quadrans  [Mar 05, 2015 at 08:48 PM]
Cool...