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Bronze axe-head

 

Height: 6.500 inches
Diameter: 3.500 inches

Castellani Collection

GR 1884.6-14.1 (Bronze 252)

Room 73: Greeks in Italy

    Bronze axe-head

    Western Greek, made in Sybaris in Calabria, about 520 BC
    From San Sosti, Calabria, Italy

    An axe dedicated by a butcher

    This elaborate bronxe axe-head, decorated with palmettes and volutes, was clearly not intended for everyday use. Axes sometimes had ceremonial uses, and could be carried like sceptres, their symbolism deriving from their use in killing animals for sacrifice. The Greek inscription on the side of this axe makes its special nature clear. It translates: 'I am the sacred property of Hera-in-the-plain: Kyniskos the butcher dedicated me, a tithe from his works'.

    We do not know the location of the sanctuary of Hera-in-the-plain. However, the inscription does evoke this individual from the ancient world: we know his name, his occupation, and something of his mentality. He obviously felt that he should thank the gods for his prosperity, and perhaps also that his wealth might continue if he shared it with them.

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