Gold libation bowl (phiale) with six bulls

Probably Western Greek, though with Phoenician influence, around 600 BC
Found in a tomb at Sant'Angelo Muxaro, Sicily

This shallow gold bowl is decorated with six bulls in relief. They have squarish heads and rather angular, though stocky, shapes. They have prominent ribs and very large cloven hooves. The bowl originally had a gemstone inlaid in the centre. To one side of this is a dotted crescent moon.

The bowl was found in Sicily, in a tomb with three other bowls which have since been lost. Although probably a western Greek product, its style betrays strong Phoenician influence. During the Orientalizing period of the seventh century BC, Greek contacts with the Phoenicians and other eastern peoples had intensified. This was not only a phenomenon of the eastern Mediterranean: the Phoenicians were great voyagers, and travelled and founded colonies in the west. Here they came into contact with Greeks who had also travelled westwards from their homeland.

Phoenicians had settled in Sicily. It has been suggested that the western Greeks, at the fringes of their influence, made this bowl locally and given it as a valuable gift to a native Sicilian king, to secure his friendship.

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Diameter: 14.600 cm
Height: 2.000 cm
Weight: 2893.000 g

Museum number

GR 1772.3-14.70 (Jewellery 1574)


Hamilton Collection


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