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Metal Antiquities

Copper was shaped by hammering from earlyprehistorictimes. The Timna Valley in Israel contains evidence of copper mining in 7000 - 5000 B.C. Copper pins, arrowheads, and small personal accouterments date from this time, and it was not long until these gave way to chisels, axes, needles, and larger tools. tzi the Iceman found in the Alps in 1991, dated to about 3300B.C., was found with a copper axe.

Bronze, a harder alloy of copper and tin, was developed in Egypt during the 3rd Dynasty, c. 2650 B.C. It was commonly used from 2200 B.C. In the Bronze Age, metal vessels andstatuesof deities were introduced. Beautiful bronze animals, pins, and finials from Luristan and Amlash date to the 8th century B.C. Bronze kouros and animals are among the archaic bronzes made in Greece. From the 6th - 4th century B.C., Etruscan bronze figures included warriors, gods, and goddesses. In Egypte, the vast pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses were cast by the "lost wax" process. Greek and Roman vessels and bronze figures range from artistic masterpieces to utilitarian ware. Smaller bronze artifacts are also collectible - clothing ornaments, arrowheads, swords, daggers, buckles, fibulas, hair ornaments, and amulets.

Lead was used only sparingly, but was used in Greco-Roman times for weights, seal impressions, and sling bullets.

Iron was used from the 12th century B.C., primarily for weapons and tools. Due to rust, other than arrowheads and spear points, few ancient iron artifacts survive in attractive collectible condition.

Roman Bronze, Figure of Perseus Holding Head of Medusa, c. 1st - 3rd Century A.D.

|Metal| |Antiquities|, |Roman| |Bronze,| |Figure| |of| |Perseus| |Holding| |Head| |of| |Medusa,| |c.| |1st| |-| |3rd| |Century| |A.D.|
King Polydektes commanded Perseus to fetch the head of Medusa. With the help of the gods, Perseus obtained the helmet of Hades, which made him invisible, a reflective shield, and a magical harpa sword. Stealing the single eye of the Graeae, he compelled them to reveal the location of the Gorgones. Perseus approached Medusa as she slept and beheaded her with eyes averted to avoid her petrifying visage. Invisibility protected him from her vengeful sisters. On his journey back to Greece, Perseus came across the Ethiopian princess Andromeda chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea-monster. He slew the beast and brought her with him back to Greece as his bride. He returned to King Polydektes and turned him to stone, before traveling on to his grandfather's kingdom to claim the throne.

Bronzes of Herakles are abundant in the many museum collections reviewed by Forum, but Perseus is missing from most. We did not find any figures similar to this one in the many references checked.
AB23901. Roman Bronze, Figure of Perseus Holding Head of Medusa; BnF Bronzes -, Morgan Bronzes -, ROM Metalware -, BMC Bronzes -, Louvre Bronzes -, Choice, green patina, intact except for missing blade and mounting peg on left foot, reverse bronze standing figure of Perseus, 13cm (5") tall, nude but for the Phrygian helmet of Hades on his head, holding Medusa's head by the hair in his right hand, his harpa (blade missing) in his left hand, stand provided; ex Griffin Gallery of Ancient Art (Boca Raton FL); rare; $2800.00 (2828.00)


Roman, Bronze Krater Handle Ornamented with Lions, c. 1st - 3rd Century A.D.

|Metal| |Antiquities|, |Roman,| |Bronze| |Krater| |Handle| |Ornamented| |with| |Lions,| |c.| |1st| |-| |3rd| |Century| |A.D.|
Click here to see the line drawing of Catalogue des bronzes antiques de la Bibliothque National no. 1446, a nearly identical handle in the Bibliothque nationale de France published in 1895.
AM23903. Roman bronze krater handle; cf. BnF Bronzes 1446, Superb, about as made with the addition of an an attractive green patina, c. 1st - 3rd Century A.D.; 12 cm (4 7/8") tall, on the upper part, which would have been attached atop the rim of the vessel: a lion's head faces inward, its back arching above, between two lions lying in opposite directions, on the lower part: acanthus and scrolls between two snakes with heads upward, ex Griffin Gallery of Ancient Art (Boca Raton FL); $2200.00 (2222.00)


Phoenician, Bronze Trapezoid Cube Weight (Ayin - 21.595g), c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Phoenician,| |Bronze| |Trapezoid| |Cube| |Weight| |(Ayin| |-| |21.595g),| |c.| |7th| |-| |4th| |Century| |B.C.|
This weight is the usual shape for the type, an inverted truncated pyramid - a cube with the bottom slightly smaller than the top. The type dates from perhaps as early as the the 9th century B.C. to the end of the Persian period. They were undoubtedly used to weigh silver bullion for transactions. Kletter lists nine weights with circle marks, ranging from 2.55g to 80.67g. Some, like ours, were incised with straight lines or punches. Most were found at Akko.
AS111486. Phoenician, bronze trapezoid cube weight; cf. Hendin Weights 245 (21.63), Kletter 25 (21.17g), Hecht A 47 (20.03g), Choice, 21.595g (3 shekels?), 14.3x16.6x12.9mm, c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.; inverted truncated pyramid (a cube with the bottom slightly smaller than the top), incised circle (Phoenician ayin) on top created with a 8 short straight line cuts, ex Shick Coins (Max Shick, Israel, 2012); $800.00 (808.00)


Phoenician, Bronze Trapezoid Cube Weight (Het - 8.644g), c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Phoenician,| |Bronze| |Trapezoid| |Cube| |Weight| |(Het| |-| |8.644g),| |c.| |7th| |-| |4th| |Century| |B.C.|
This weight is the usual shape for the type, an inverted truncated pyramid - a cube with the bottom slightly smaller than the top. The type dates from perhaps as early as the the 9th century B.C. to the end of the Persian period. They were undoubtedly used to weigh silver bullion for transactions. They are a common find at Ashkelon in 7th century B.C. contexts, but not often available for sale.
AS111483. Phoenician, bronze cube weight, cf. Kletter 2000 p. 32, 15 - 16 (8.33 - 8.86g), Hendin Weights 248 - 251 (16.81 - 17.77g), Hecht A 53 (3.5g), Choice, 8.644g, 10.0x11.3x10.1mm, c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.; inverted truncated pyramid, incised (Phoenician het) on top, ex Shick Coins (Max Shick, Israel, 2012); $400.00 (404.00)


Phoenician, Bronze Trapezoid Cube Weight (Samekh - 22.768g), c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Phoenician,| |Bronze| |Trapezoid| |Cube| |Weight| |(Samekh| |-| |22.768g),| |c.| |7th| |-| |4th| |Century| |B.C.|
This weight is the usual shape for the type, an inverted truncated pyramid - a cube with the bottom slightly smaller than the top. The type dates from perhaps as early as the the 9th century B.C. to the end of the Persian period. They were undoubtedly used to weigh silver bullion for transactions. They are a common find at Ashkelon in 7th century B.C. contexts, but curiously not often available for sale.
AS111484. Phoenician, bronze cube weight, cf. Hendin Weights 242 (24.46g), Hecht A 49 - 52 (5.59 - 11.09g), Kletter 2000 8 - 10 (4.79g - 5.92g), Collectible, minor pitting, 22.768g (3 shekels?), 15.7x17.2x13.4mm, c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.; inverted truncated pyramid, incised (Phoenician samekh) on top, ex Shick Coins (Max Shick, Israel, 2012); $400.00 (404.00)


Phoenician, Bronze Trapezoid Cube Weight (Het - 8.959g), c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Phoenician,| |Bronze| |Trapezoid| |Cube| |Weight| |(Het| |-| |8.959g),| |c.| |7th| |-| |4th| |Century| |B.C.|
If the markings on these weights indicate a value, we don't understand. Based on the weight of 8.959g, one might assume this is one shekel weight. Hendin lists four weights with the Phoenician het and all are about twice this weight and all are identified as 2 shekels weights. Kletter lists weights marked with the Phoenician het ranging from 0.95g to 16g.
AS111485. Phoenician, bronze trapezoid cube weight; Kletter 2000 16 (8.86g), Hendin Weights 248 - 251 (16.81 - 17.77g), Hecht A 53 (3.50g), Choice, earthen encrustations, 8.959g, 11.9x12.6x9.2mm, c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.; inverted truncated pyramid, incised (Phoenician het) on top, ex Shick Coins (Max Shick, Israel, 2012); $400.00 (404.00)


Hellenistic - Roman, Holy Land, Lead Glans Sling-Bullet, 2nd Century B.C. - 1st Century A.D.

|Lead| |Glandes| |Sling| |Bullets|, |Hellenistic| |-| |Roman,| |Holy| |Land,| |Lead| |Glans| |Sling-Bullet,| |2nd| |Century| |B.C.| |-| |1st| |Century| |A.D.|
According to the contemporary report of Vegatius, Republican slingers had an accurate range of up to six hundred feet. The best sling ammunition was cast from lead. For a given mass, lead, being very dense, offered the minimum size and therefore minimum air resistance. Also, lead sling-bullets were small and difficult to see in flight. In some cases, the lead would be cast in a simple open mold made by pushing a finger, thumb, or sharpened stick into sand and pouring molten metal into the hole. The flat top end could later be carved to a matching shape. More frequently, they were cast in two-part molds. Sling-bullets were made in a variety of shapes including an ellipsoidal form closely resembling an acorn; possibly the origin of the Latin word for lead sling-bullet: glandes plumbeae (literally leaden acorns) or simply glandes (meaning acorns, singular glans). The most common shape by far was biconical, resembling the shape of an almond or an American football. Why the almond shape was favored is unknown. Possibly there was some aerodynamic advantage, but it seems equally likely that there was a more prosaic reason, such as the shape being easy to extract from a mold, or that it will rest in a sling cradle with little danger of rolling out. Almond-shaped lead sling-bullets were typically about 35 millimeters (1.4 in) long and about 20 millimeters (0.8 in) wide. Sometimes symbols or writings were molded on the side. A thunderbolt, a snake, a scorpion, or others symbols indicating how it might strike without warning were popular. Writing might include the name of the military unit or commander, or was sometimes more imaginative, such as, "Take this," "Ouch," "Catch," or even "For Pompey's backside."
AS111512. Lead glans sling-bullet; cf. Petrie Tools pl. XLIV, 17; Tushingham fig. 70, 34; Reich-Shukron p. 461, 18, Choice, one end flattened from impact, attractive patina; 33.489g, 30.9mm long, almond shaped, ornamented with winged fulmen (thunderbolt) on both sides, cast in a two part mold (workshop made); ex David Hendin with his Photo Authenticity Receipt (2015); $400.00 (404.00)


Judah, Bronze Dome Weight (13.649g), c. 800 - 586 B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Judah,| |Bronze| |Dome| |Weight| |(13.649g),| |c.| |800| |-| |586| |B.C.|
 
AS111503. Judah, bronze dome weight, cf. Hendin Weights 222 (12.24g, 1 shekel), Hecht A -, Kletter 1998 -, Tushingham -, Choice, 13.649g, 15.2mm diameter, pre-exile, c. 800 - 586 B.C.; spherical bronze weight with a flat bottom, unmarked; ex Archaeological Center (Robert Deutsch, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2012); $300.00 (303.00)


Roman, Bronze Repousse Plaque with Centaur Holding a Bow, Lorica Sqaumata Armor Plate(?), c. 1st - 3rd Century B.C.

|Roman| |Antiquities|, |Roman,| |Bronze| |Repousse| |Plaque| |with| |Centaur| |Holding| |a| |Bow,| |Lorica| |Sqaumata| |Armor| |Plate(?),| |c.| |1st| |-| |3rd| |Century| |B.C.|
Likely used in some legionary application; perhaps as a lorica squamata legionary armor plate segment.
AA59779. Roman, bronze repousse, 1.75 x 1.75 inches, c. 1st - 3rd century A.D.; sheet bronze hammered from behind in repousse technique to raise the figure of a centaur holding a bow, remains of two rivet holes where it was attached, tear on body, rare and interesting; from a New Jersey collection; $260.00 (262.60)


Mediterranean Region, Lead Shell Weight, 1/8 Libra (47.803g), c. 4th Century B.C. - 2nd Century A.D.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Mediterranean| |Region,| |Lead| |Shell| |Weight,| |1/8| |Libra| |(47.803g),| |c.| |4th| |Century| |B.C.| |-| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.||weight|
Hendin lists several such shell-shaped weights. They are found throughout the Mediterranean Region.
AS99980. Lead weight, Hendin Weights 276, Manns-Kloetzli p. 22, 37; Alvarez-Burgos P29; 1/8 Libra lead weight molded from bipod shell, weight 47.803 g, maximum diameter 31.2 mm, 4th century B.C. - 2nd century A.D.; $250.00 (252.50)




  



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REFERENCES

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Babelon, E. & J. Blanchet. Catalogue des bronzes antiques de la Bibliotheque National. (Paris, 1895).
Baratte, F, et al. Vases antiques de metal au Musee de Chalon-sur-Saone. (Dijon, 1984).
Bartus, D. "Roman Figural Bronzes From Brigetio: Preliminary Notes" in Anodos, Studies of the Ancient World, 10/2010, pp. 17-27.
Ceci. C. Piccoli bronzi del Museo Nazionale di Napoli. (New York, 1858).
Comstock, M. & C. Vermeule. Greek, Etruscan, & Roman Bronzes in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston Museum of Fine Arts. (Boston, 1971).
den Boesterd, M. Description of the Collections in the Rijksmuseum G.M. Kam at Nijmegen V, The Bronze Vessels. (1956).
Di Niro, A. (ed). Il Museo Sannitico di Campobasso, Catalogo della Collezione Provinciale. 2nd edition. (Pescara, 2007).
Edgar, C. Catalogue Gnral des Antiquits Egyptiennes du Muse de Caire, Greek Bronzes. (Cairo, 1904).
Koster, A. Description of the Collections in the Rijksmuseum G.M. Kam at Nijmegen XIII, The Bronze Vessels 2. (Gelderland, 1997).
Lamb, W. Greek and Roman Bronzes. (London, 1929).
Hattatt, R. Ancient Brooches and Other Artifacts. (Oxford, 1989).
Hayes, J. Greek, Roman, and Related Metalware in the Royal Ontario Museum. (Toronto, 1984).
Mattusch, C. Classical Bronzes: The Art and Craft of Greek and Roman Statuary. (Ithica, NY, 1996).
Mattusch, C. Greek Bronze Statuary: From the Beginnings through the Fifth Century B.C. (Ithica, NY, 1989).
Mertens, J. Greek Bronzes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (New York, 1985).
Milovanivic, B. & N. Mrdjic. "Ring-Keys from Viminacium" in Journal of the Serbian Archaeological Society, Vol. 32. (Belgrade, 2016).
Milovanovic, B. & A. Raickovic Savic. "Seal Boxes From the Viminacium Site" in Institute of Archaeology, Belgrade, STARINAR LXIII (2013), pp. 219 - 236.
Negbi, O. Canaanite Gods in Metal: An Archaeological Study of Ancient Syro-Palestinian Figures During the Bronze Ages, circa 3100 to 1200 BCE. (Tel Aviv, 1976).
Petrie, F. Objects of Daily Use. (London, 1927).
Petrovszky, R. Studien zu rmischen Bronze Gefassen mit Meister Stempeln. (Buch am Erlbach, 1993).
Radnti, A. Die Rmischen Bronzegefsse von Pannonien. (Leipzig, 1938).
Raev, B. "De Bronzegefsse der rmischen Kaiserzeit in Thrakien und Mosien" in Bericht der Rmisch-Germanischen Kommission, 58 (1977), pp. 607 - 642.
Richter, G. Greek, Etruscan and Roman Bronzes. (New York, 1915).
Ridder, A. Les Bronzes antiques du Louvre, I. Les Figurines. (Paris, 1913).
Roeder, G. Agyptische Bronzefiguren. (Berlin, 1956).
Rolland, H. Bronzes Antiques de Haute Provence. (Paris, 1965).
Rolley, C. Greek Bronzes. (London, 1986).
Smith, C. Catalogue of Bronzes in the Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan. (Paris, 1913).
Tassinari, S. Il vasellame bronzeo di Pompei. (Rome, 1993).
Walters, H. Catalogue of the Bronzes, Greek, Roman, and Etruscan, in the British Museum. (London, 1899).
Warden, P. The Hilprecht Collection of Greek, Italic, and Roman Bronzes in the University of Pennsylvania Museum. (Philadelphia, 1997).

Most references for jewelry, fibulae, weapons, arrowheads, sling bullets, lamps, and weights are not listed above. For improved clarity they are listed on the shop pages dedicated specifically to those types of antiquities.

Catalog current as of Friday, March 31, 2023.
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