Numismatic and History Discussions > Byzantine Coins

Large Byzantine Unknown Lead Medallion

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This Medal is 80mm and 10mm thick, it is made of what looks like lead. It is still very dirt and I do very much need some cleaning tips ( Cleaning a lead medallion.) and of course still guesiing what it was used for. It was recently found in Syria and  its Byzantine. I got it today.

This obv has  a male ( Christ?) with a baby in his arms overlooking a dead female laying horrizontle and  Nimbus (has  a halo) ( Saint or the Virgin? )  on a bed?  The two are surronded by praying people and the fellow on the left has a long stick on the side of the bed.

No Legend , just design.

And the Reverse , just a large interesting designed cross. Again no legend.

I really wonder what the obverse trying to say? Who is the man with the baby? What and when is this scene depicting? Any suggestions or knowledge would be appreciated.



First of all about the cleaning method. I had a similar medalion, in size I mean, and the only way to clean it without damaging  is with a new tooth brush. The lead is a very soft metal and can get scratched very quickly; also it has a distinctive patina, an oxid, which I believe you don't want to spoil.So I suggest to clean it with a tooth brush and a lot of patience :)
The medalion is very interesting. The reverse doesn't raise any problems, probably only the style of the cross which can be helpful in dating the medalion. The obverse is certainly a funeral allegory and right now I can't be sure who's "funeral" we are talking about, but it seems to me an imperial scene and not a saint, considering the crowd in the background. If it was found in Syria, is probably made locally- Antiohia or Jerusalem, so it should be from the early byzantine period. I have two questions at this point: are you sure the dead person is a female and also the left fellow is he holding a stick or what seems like a "broom" in the image?
Otherwise, congratulations for the purchase and a more intimate question: was it expensive? :)

Hi V, Thanks for the cleaning tip. I will be real carefull with the cleaning, I dont think it will be very diifficult to clean, the dirt comes out without to much problems. Can I soak it  in distilled water?

As for the main figure who is dead, it appears to be female because of the head garment , it looks like a maphorium that the Virgin wears in other coins.

The fellow looks like he is holding a torch, ready to start a funeral pyre, but I didn't think that would fit into the Christian beliefs.

I found one image that has similarities it is a wall sculpture in Notre Dame done around 1210 AD . It is called " The  Dormition of the Virgin." but Christ in that scene has no baby and the angels taking her to heaven are distinct and on the medal  I really doubt that I see any angels. So next question is what Byzantine Empresses died durring child birth? I think that is a good way too start.

BTW the scan does not do the medal justice, I will try to do a photo. Thanks again for your help. :)

I was thinking about the same thing- which empress died in this context, or not necessarily an empress but someone from the imperial family.
I wouldn't soak it in any liquid at all. If you tries before with lead and nothing happened you might just do it again, but I wouldn't recommend it in this case.


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