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Moulded Terracotta Tiger Sculptural Fragment from Caesarea Maritima


Hi, all.  Here is a curious terracotta fragment and I am wondering if anyone has seen something similar.  A cursory search of Google and the New York MMoA came up blank.  At first I thought it might be a sculptural oil lamp fragment, but the "filler hole" is quite small and regular, and the top and left side do not really seem to be fractured, so I don't see how it could have been a hollow vessel or other complete figure.  Maybe some type of toy?  Any ideas on date and function would be appreciated.  Thanks, Jimi

Terracotta Tiger Sculptural Fragment
1st - 6th century CE?
Moulded terracotta clay fragment in the form
of a tiger, perhaps a votive offering or toy.  The
top edge of the piece does not seem to be broken?,
so possibly it was not a hollow figure in the round
but rather a one-sided appliqué, with a round
mounting hole pierced from the decorated side. 
The unglazed light tan, medium fine-grained clay
was pressed and smoothed into the mould from
the back, leaving smears and traces of fingerprints.
On the left, the rear of the haunch also appears to
be unbroken, and was intentionally cut while the
clay was wet leaving a smoothly finished edge.
5.6cm. x 2.8cm. x 1.0cm. 14.3gm.
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1970's.
(click for larger pic)

I thought this might be of interest.  I found this photo in a great book about Caesarea Maritima called "King Herod's Dream" by K. Hollum, R. Hohlfelder, R. Bull, A. Raban, published in 1988 in conjunction with an international exhibition of finds from the city.  These limestone moulds were excavated at Caesarea in 1961 near an area later believed to have been a pottery workshop, where moulds for oil lamps from the "late 6th to earlier 7th century" were also recovered.  The authors state that the "function of the figures made from these molds is unknown, but they may have been toys".
(click for larger pic)


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