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v-drome
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« on: June 01, 2013, 01:48:02 pm »

BCC LA2
Lead Amphora
1st-4th Century CE?
Rahmani Type A
Hollow cast miniature lead amphora with conical body and wide angled
handles.  It is inscribed around in Greek ΑCΠΙ / ΔΙΟΥ, a proper name
which may be translated as “of a little shield”.  I was told it could also be related to
the Greek word for venomous snake, but I have not been able to confirm this.  Below
the inscription on the obverse is the figure of a dog with forelegs extended.  The position
of the dog is somewhat similar to iconography found in depictions of Mithraic ritual, as well as
common hunting scenes.  Other designs above the inscription and on the reverse are obscure,
and remain unidentified.  A collar of points encircles the neck.
Pb 47mm x 22mm 18.6gm. Capacity 0.65cc.  Surface find, Caesarea Maritima, 1971

Edit 4/19/2021: An identical amphora, from the same mold, was observed in the archives of Gert Boersema Ancient Coins, SKU: no.10483.

https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/gert_boersema/25/product/astidios_lead_votive_amphora_c_6th7th_century_ad/518322/Default.aspx
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2013, 03:44:59 pm »

Hi, here is another one.  I would like to make this thread a resource for these unusual artifacts.

BCC LA1
Lead Amphora
1st-4th Century CE?
Rahmani Type A
Hollow cast miniature lead amphora with
cryptic inscription and complex curvilinear
design in six registers. Letters perhaps
include: E, K or B, I, C, / A, C, T, but
there are many other possibilities. The vessel is
open at top and was pierced in antiquity.
Pb 46.5mm x 28mm 19.96gm. Capacity:1.1cc.
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1976

(please click on photos for higher resolution)
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2013, 05:47:50 am »

The ones I have seen labelled as Roman have been slightly different form - fatter - and lacked inscriptions.

That doesn't mean much as I am no expert and have not read widely and there are likely many types.  But I guess it could be Hellenistic as well as Roman.

If the drawings are yours congratulations, very impressive work.

Shawn
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2013, 01:10:00 pm »

Hi Shawn.  These beautiful drawings were made by Mr. Shibley Kharman, a member of the Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima, in 1976.  The objects were surface finds from the beach several kilometers north and south of the ancient city.  Although Late Hellenistic coins were occasionally found near the site of the settlement that preceded Caesarea (Strato's Tower), the area in which the amphorae were found usually turned up coins from the 1st - 4th cent. CE.  The lack of Christian symbols leads me to doubt that they were early Byzantine, thus the Late Roman suggestion.  While I was there only one similar object was found in the excavations.  It was located in a rubble filled waste layer associated with 6th to 7th century CE remains, but was almost certainly from an earlier time.  Unfortunately it was severely crushed and any decoration on the object had been erased.  We have several more examples which I will post soon.  Best regards, Jimi (V-drome)
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2013, 01:06:59 pm »

BCC LA3
Miniature Lead Amphora
Roman 2nd-3rd Cent. CE?
Rahmani Type B
Hollow cast miniature lead amphora with conical lower body narrowing sharply to form the neck and mouth.  Small looped handles are attached at the shoulders and rim.  The decoration is divided into four parts, separated by horizontal lines.  The lower section consists of evenly spaced longitudinal lines, and the one above it of diagonally crossed lines with points.  The two upper registers each contain one line of Greek inscription continuing around the body.  The first line may read ΜΑΡΚ-EΛIΟΝ, a proper name common in the 1st-2nd century CE and later.  The second line clearly reads ΥΓΕΙ-ΝΟΝ, a 2nd century CE spelling of υγιεια, which translates as “pertaining to health, or healthy”.  The vessel is open at the top and was pierced in antiquity.  One handle is damaged, but the vessel is otherwise well-preserved.  Pb 39x14mm. 10.5gm. capacity: 1.55cc.  
From the collection of Mr. M. Yerushalmi, Haifa, reportedly found at Caesarea Maritima in 1968.  

Edit 4/16/2021: For a nearly identical specimen, possibly from the same mold, but with angled handles, see Farhi Y. 2016. "From Caesarea to Hebron -Recently Discovered Roman Period Lead Miniature Amphora from Tel Hebron. Judea and Samaria Research Studies 25/1", (available at Academia.edu.).
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2013, 03:57:55 pm »

The "C" in Alpha, Sigma, Pi, Iota, is called a lunate sigma.  "Lunate" because it looks like the moon.  So basically, you have ASPI, which sounds like our word "asp" or venomous snake.  I'm not sure when lunate sigmas start getting used.

With the word 'ygeinon,'  I can't help but think that maybe these involved ancient medicine.  Snake venom/'of shield of god' could be a medicine, but I am not sure the asp etymology connecting it to the word shield (aspis) helps.  On the other hand, imitations of things that were functional were used as votive offerings.  Or it could be doll furniture, do you suppose I could get one for my niece?  ;D  Just kidding!

Could these mini-amphorae actually hold some liquid, or are they just for appearance?

John
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2013, 08:26:58 pm »

 :Greek_Alpha: :GreeK_Sigma:  :Greek_Pi: :Greek_Iota: :Greek_Delta: :Greek_Iota: :Greek_Omicron: :Greek_Nu::Greek_Tau: :Greek_Omicron:, dim[inutive] of  :Greek_Alpha: :GreeK_Sigma: :Greek_Pi: :Greek_Iota: :GreeK_Sigma:. a small shield., [Literary sources:] Hermipp.  :Greek_Delta: :Greek_Eta: :Greek_Mu:. 2, Menander. Incert. 227

Aspidiou would be genitive singular of "small shield."  If the grammar is correct.

Aspis means both shield and asp or Egyptian cobra.

Liddell-Scott A Greek-English Lexicon (Harper and Brothers, Publishers, New York 1880)

I include this to make up for mangling the interpretation earlier ("shield of God")
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2013, 11:00:13 pm »

Hi John.  My feeling is that they held something, either a liquid or powder, or perhaps some kind of oil with medicinal or amuletic properties.  I can't see any traces of a sealant remaining around the openings, but they clearly could have been filled.  It is interesting that some were intentionally pierced and others were not.  I have a few more I will post soon, but they are not nearly as nice as the first ones.  Hopefully other members may come across examples that they will post here also. 
Regards, Jimi (V-drome).
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2013, 06:47:59 am »

It is my understanding (though I could be wrong) is that these were tied to large amphora containing actual wine, which is why many are pierced.  They identify the merchant to whom the wine belongs (and perhaps even the maker), as many merchants banded together to ship their wine jointly and later would need to identify to whom each amphora belongs.  In effect, they are labels for each merchant's wine and did not contain anything inside.  Certain "vintages" probably were known and in high demand.
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2016, 05:32:18 pm »

Dear V-drom.
My name is Yoav and I would be very happy if you could supply me more information about the lead amphora you present here, and especially object BCC LA3.

I am studying an almost identical piece recently discovered in excavations, probably made by the same hand.

I will be very happy to know the origin of the lead amphora and to have permission to use its photos and drowning in my research (with proper credit to you and the owner). I will be thankful if you could supply me hi resolution images.

Are you familiar with this study:
Rahmani L. Y. 2003. On Some Roman to Early Medieval Lead Miniature Amphorae. Israel Museum Studies in Archaeology 2: 33–62.

I will appreciate very much your reply.
Thank you in advance,
Yoav
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« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2020, 11:04:48 pm »

Hi, all.  Here is another miniature lead amphora from Caesarea Maritima, very similar to one
published by L. Y. Rahmani in 2003 (see reference, below).  I have several others I will be posting.
Anyone with similar objects is welcome to add them, as well.  The general belief seems to be that
these vessels were cast in two pieces and soldered together, however, based on the lack of a seam
line on the interior of the open examples, I am starting to think they were cast together in a
two-piece mold using a method known as "slush casting" in order to produce the hollow containers.
I am planning to attempt to reproduce one of these in the future.  I will let you know how it goes!

Edit: I just found this very interesting link which illustrates the slush casting technique.  It looks
like an open and shut case to me!:

http://pbsn3.pbworks.com/w/page/67224722/Pilgrims%20Ampulla
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyCjlAUBd7M

BCC LA4
Lead Amphora
1st-4th Century CE
Type A variant
Hollow cast miniature lead vessel in the shape of an elongated amphora with
a cylindrical or slightly funnel-shaped neck, an everted rim, and small looped
handles, which are crushed.  The almost straight shoulders, only slightly broader
than the neck,  taper in a straight line to a pointed base.  The body is in the
unusual form of an inverted four-sided pyramid.  The decoration consists of
horizontal lines creating four registers with no surviving linear or geometric
elements.  The top register, below the shoulder, bears traces of an inscription,
possibly an O followed by an A, but nothing else is discernible.  The two halves
are slightly misaligned, more noticeably along one seam than the other.
Pb 4.9 x 1.3 x 1.2cm 15.36gm.
cf. L. Y. Rahmani, "On Some Roman to Early Medieval Lead Miniature Amphorae"
Israel Museum Studies in Archaeology, Volume 2 - 2003, Fig. 13 (inscribed ΓOΛACIOY) .
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1974
(click for larger pic)
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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2021, 08:15:31 pm »

Hi, all.  Here is another miniature lead amphora from Caesarea Maritima, very unusual in that it is in the form of an oenoche, or wine jug.  Unlike the previous examples, there is no obvious external seam so I am not certain of the method of casting, but I suspect that it was also formed in a two part mold using a method known as "slush casting" to create hollow interior.  It may be that the exterior of the vessel was finished to remove any traces of the seam.  The vessel opens from the base on which it stood, the neck and trefoil? lip were decorative and non-functional.  There is nothing similar in L. Y. Rahmani's article in IMSA, cited in the above post.  However, a very similar object, in much better condition and clearly showing the original form of the vessel, was observed in the collection of Dr. and Mrs. H. and A. Hamburger, of Binyamina, Israel.  This piece was also a surface find from Caesarea and is illustrated below (Drawing by Mr. Shibley Kharmen, courtesy Dr. Robert Bull, Drew University, Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima, 1976).  I would welcome any comments or corrections to the description.
Thanks, Jimi (V-drome)

BCC LA5
Lead Amphora
Roman 2nd cent CE?
Hollow cast lead vessel in the form of an Oenoche.
Squat shape with tall neck, trefoil? lip and long
looped handle.  Open on the bottom, and partially
crushed.  Possible traces of decoration may remain
on the neck and shoulder, but are not distinguishable.
45.5 x 20.5 x 22.0mm  33.81gm.   Capacity:unc.
Surface find, 1974, Caesarea Maritima
(Click for larger pics)
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« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2021, 09:16:29 am »

Wow.  Very nice piece.

Interesting that the opening was at the bottom.  I assume it was technically impossible to have the opening in such a narrow neck so they had to report to the bottom.

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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2021, 02:53:12 am »

Thank. you, Shawn.  I forgot to note that the Hamburger example is intentionally pierced through the circle accompanying the wreath, with the letter A below.  I am not sure of the significance of that, but our vessel does not have any similar feature.
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2021, 01:51:29 am »

BCC LA6
Lead Amphora
1st-2nd Century CE?
Rahmani, Type B
Hollow cast miniature lead amphora with a slightly funnel-shaped neck, everted rim, and
small looped handles, only one of which survives with an occluded opening.  The upper
and lower attachment points are linked by horizontal lines.  The wide, almost straight
shoulders taper in a curved line to a narrow elongated stump base with vertical fluting.  
There is no exact parallel to this style of base in the reference cited below.  The only
remaining decoration on the body consists of horizontal lines creating two or three registers,
with just traces of a possible inscription still visible.  The vessel is crushed almost flat.
Pb 4.05 x 1.45 x 0.95cm  14.08gm.  Capacity: Unc.
See: L. Y. Rahmani, "On Some Roman to Early Medieval
Lead Miniature Amphorae" Israel Museum Studies in
Archaeology, Volume 2 - 2003.
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1974
(click for larger pic)
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2021, 09:06:24 pm »

BCC LA7
Miniature Lead Amphora
1st-5th Century CE?
Rahmani, Type C
Hollow cast miniature lead amphora with ovoid body, slightly
funnel-shaped neck, no shoulders,and an everted rim. Small
looped handles extend from mid-neck to the top of the body
and are linked by upper and lower horizontal lines. Decoration
consists of vertical fluting which runs from the lower horizontal
line to converge at the semi-rounded base. The vessel as well
as the handles are partially crushed almost flat and the mouth
is squeezed shut.
Pb 3.85 x 1.85 x 1.1cm 17.74gm. Capacity: Unc.
See: L. Y. Rahmani, "On Some Roman to Early Medieval
Lead Miniature Amphorae" Israel Museum Studies in
Archaeology, Volume 2 - 2003.
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1977
(click for larger pic)
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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2021, 04:49:20 pm »

BCC LA8
Miniature Lead Amphora
1st-5th Century CE?
Rahmani, Type C
Hollow cast miniature lead amphora with ovoid
body,  badly damaged and missing the upper part
of the neck and handles.  Identical to, and probably
from the same mold as, BCC LA7 above, at one time it would
have had a slightly funnel-shaped neck, no shoulders,
an everted rim and small looped handles.  These extended
from mid-neck to the top of the body and were joined by
horizontal lines.  Decoration consists of vertical fluting
which runs from the lower horizontal line to converge at
the semi-rounded base.
Pb 3.1 x 1.65 x 1.55cm 16.97gm. Capacity: Unc.
See: L. Y. Rahmani, "On Some Roman to Early Medieval
Lead Miniature Amphorae" Israel Museum Studies in
Archaeology, Volume 2 - 2003.
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1978
(click for larger pic)
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« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2021, 08:27:44 am »

You have a great collection of these!

SC
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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2021, 01:43:56 pm »

I love collecting miniature antiquities which is why this post about miniature amphorae has caught my attention. It’s important to explain the purpose of these miniature amphorae. They were amphora-shaped votive ampullae. Pilgrims who went to visit the Holy Land had the custom of bringing back these little vessels filled either with oil which had been used in lamps burning before important pilgrimage shrines or with holy water from the same sites. Due to their popularity, these ampullae were made as mass-produced souvenirs. They were cast in various metals, including silver, tin and lead.
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2021, 09:34:11 pm »

There are a number of theories regarding the possible utilitarian or commercial use of these objects.  I am hesitant to label them for certain as "pilgrim's ampullae" mainly because they seem to lack any consistent decoration or inscriptions related to the iconography of known religions or cults.  Nor, according to Rahmani (cited above), were any of the amphoras in his corpus found in association with a known sacred site.  His guess was that they were intended to be suspended by a cord around the neck and may have held perfume or medicine for health or amuletic purposes.  A fine article by Yoav Farhi, recently published and currently available at academia.edu, details an amphora found in excavations at Hebron that is nearly identical to our BCC LA3, above.  Possibly from the same mold, but certainly from the same hand, Farhi suggests that the vessel could have contained a certain medicine or salve associated with the proper name of a druggist or pharmacist inscribed on the object, "Μαρκελιον υγεινον".

Farhi Y. 2016. "From Caesarea to Hebron -Recently Discovered Roman Period Lead Miniature Amphora from Tel Hebron. Judea and Samaria Research Studies 25/1"

Here are a few more that I am in the process of adding to my gallery.  I am hoping to someday have all of our lead artifacts published alongside similar collections in Israel, all from Caesarea Maritima, and comprising a fascinating corpus of material. (click for larger pic)

Roger, here is another topic with some interesting miniatures you might enjoy:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=122907

Jimi (V-drome)
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« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2021, 04:30:58 pm »

BCC LA9
Miniature Lead Amphora
1st-5th Century CE?
Rahmani, Type C Var./Atypical Form
Hollow cast miniature lead amphora in the shape of a prize urn,
crushed almost flat.  The upper part of the vessel consisted
of an almost straight sided, wide mouth and neck, and a slightly
tapering midsection without distinct shoulders, expanding to an
ovoid body attached to a small round base.  Small looped handles
span the midsection set off by two horizontal lines.  Vertical fluting
from the lower line decorates the body, converging at the base.
Pb 5.425 x 2.2 x 0.75cm 20.16gm. Capacity: Unc.
See: L. Y. Rahmani, "On Some Roman to Early Medieval
Lead Miniature Amphorae" Israel Museum Studies in
Archaeology, Volume 2 - 2003.
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1977
(click for larger pic)
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« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2021, 08:15:16 pm »

I really like these lead amphora. If has any duplicates they want to sell, please consign them to Forum.  :)
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