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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Medieval & Modern Coins| ▸ |Medieval Artifacts||View Options:  |  |  | 

Medieval Artifacts
Islamic, Sphero-Conical "Mercury" Vessel, 9th - 15th Century

|Medieval| |Artifacts|, |Islamic,| |Sphero-Conical| |"Mercury"| |Vessel,| |9th| |-| |15th| |Century|
Sphero-conical vessels have been found from the Levante to Central Asia, dating from the 9th to 15th century A.D. More than 30 are in the Palestine Archaeological Museum and many others in collections in Jerusalem. Shape, style and decor vary greatly. They have been identified as vessels, fire grenades, aeolipiles, plumb bobs, and decorative finials.

R. Ettinghausen in "The Use of Sphero-Conical Vessels in the Muslim East" (1965) discusses specimens that have been found with traces of Mercury inside. In the Muslim world, mercury was used in medicinal drugs for headaches, paralysis, palsy, deafness, insanity, and loss of vision, as a tonic, and in salves employed against scabs, itch and mange. It was used in veterinary medicines and as poison against lice, mice, snakes and scorpions. In industry, it was used for backing of mirrors and embellishments. Ettinghausen notes, however, that despite conclusive evidence for use as mercury containers, this was not their exclusive function.

A. Ghouchani and C. Adle in "A Sphero-Conical Vessel as Fuqqa'a, or a Gourd for 'Beer'" (1992) provide convincing evidence that some of these vessels, especially some inscribed with Kufic, were used for storing and drinking beer. Examples of inscriptions include:
"As long as it is full, they will kiss it, When empty they will drop it."
"Do not give your heart to woman, because they will make a gourd of beer out of a man."
"Drink to your good health."
Literature and inscriptions indicate the "gourds" were placed in ice to cool the beer and the beer was under pressure and would gush out after the gourd was opened.

In one case, these "gourds" were actually used as grenades. The Arab historian Al-Damiri (1341 - 1404), wrote, "There are deadly scorpions around Nasibayn. It is said that they originated from Shahr-i Zur. A king encircled Nasibayn. He took the scorpions and put them into beer gourds and catapulted them into the city!"
AA99527. See Ettinghausen (1965) and Ghouchani-Adle (1992) for discussions of the type, near Choice, repaired crack, chips, tip of "cone" missing; 13.5cm tall, 12cm diameter, probably pre-Mongol, 9th - mid 13th century; unusual pine-cone decor (we did not find another in references or online), ex Mera Antiq (Yossi Eilon, Tel Aviv, 25 Jun 2013), found in Israel; $450.00 (Ä423.00)


Medieval Spain, Bronze Scabbard Chape, c. 15th - 16th Century

|Medieval| |Artifacts|, |Medieval| |Spain,| |Bronze| |Scabbard| |Chape,| |c.| |15th| |-| |16th| |Century|
In the London Museum medieval catalogue, Ward-Perkins dates similar chapes to the late 15th or 16th century. He suggests that metal dagger chapes were only used on the sheaths of military daggers or the more elaborate forms of civilian dagger. The great majority of surviving leather sheaths belonged to ordinary knives or knife-daggers and these have no metal terminal.
AS110892. bronze scabbard chape, 54.2mm long, 15th - 16th century; hollow shield shaped, curved sides converging at the base, a solid rounded knob terminal, curved upper edge with a raised lip on the front, rectangular opening on the back; $50.00 (Ä47.00)


Eastern Europe, Bronze Ring with Incised Design, 11th - 14th Century A.D.

|Medieval| |Artifacts|, |Eastern| |Europe,| |Bronze| |Ring| |with| |Incised| |Design,| |11th| |-| |14th| |Century| |A.D.||ring|
 
AS88979. Bronze ring, Bronze ring, plain hoop band, high round trumpet head incised with scroll, star and cross, 4.449g, inside diameter c. 20.8mm (US size 11.5 - 12), 11th - 14th century A.D.; SOLD


India, Stone Head of a Bodhisattva, c. 10th Century A.D.

|Central| |Asian| |Antiquities|, |India,| |Stone| |Head| |of| |a| |Bodhisattva,| |c.| |10th| |Century| |A.D.|
The bodhisattva, a popular subject in Buddhist art, is someone who, motivated by great compassion, has a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. In early Indian Buddhism, bodhisattva usually referred specifically to the Buddha Shakyamuni in his former lives.
AH59766. India, stone head of a bodhisattva, 11 cm tall, c. 10th century A.D., from New Jersey collection, purchased from a European dealer (c. 1980's); SOLD


Medieval, England, Iron Small Knife Blade, 1300 - 1400 A.D.

|Medieval| |European|, |Medieval,| |England,| |Iron| |Small| |Knife| |Blade,| |1300| |-| |1400| |A.D.|
AA36880. Iron small knife blade; 89 mm long; one side sharp and one blunted, from the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years; SOLD







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