Bronze dinos and a gold myrtle spray

Greek, 5th-4th century BC
From near Piraeus, Greece

An heirloom from 'Aspasia's tomb'

These two objects were discovered by Lord Elgin's agent in 1804 in a large marble container in a tumulus (mound) near the Greek port of Piraeus. Rather fancifully, Lord Elgin later named the tumulus 'Aspasia's Tomb', after Aspasia of Miletus (flourished fifth century BC), the mistress of Perikles.

The bronze dinos dates to about 450-425 BC. Such bowls were commonly given as prizes at athletic and equestrian competitions, sometimes complete with the stand. The rim of this example is inscribed 'I am one of the prizes of Argive Hera'. A number of other bronze vessels, with similar inscriptions, bear witness to games in honour of Hera at Argos. In particular a series of roughly contemporary hydriai (water-jars), has been found in tombs in Greece, Italy and on the coast of the Black Sea.

The body of the dinos is hammered from one sheet of bronze; the rim with its careful pattern of tongues and dots was cast on to it using the lost wax technique. The large tongues that decorate the shoulder of the vessel were incised cold.

The stem of the gold spray is made of thin sheet gold over a bronze core, while the leaves are of sheet gold. The tiny myrtle flowers are made from gold wire and gold sheet; the end of the central stamen was probably further decorated with blue and green enamel (glass paste). This spray would seem to date from the first half of the fourth century BC, suggesting that the bronze dinos may have been an heirloom - a prize won by an ancestor of the deceased.

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More information


D. Williams and J. Ogden, Greek gold: jewellery of the c (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

L. Burn, The British Museum book of G-1, revised edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Height: 31.000 cm (dinos)
Height: 31.000 cm (dinos)
Weight: 7.200 g

Museum number

GR 1816.6-10.115;GR 1960.11-1.48



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