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Bronze shield-boss


Diameter: 31.000 cm (max.)

Excavated by General Luigi Palma di Cesnola

ME 135591

Middle East

    Bronze shield-boss

    Phoenician, 8th-7th century BC
    From Amathus, Cyprus

    A lion and bull combat scene

    This shield boss was discovered in a tomb at Amathus in 1875. The tomb had been looted, and in its two chambers were the scattered fragments of fifteen sarcophagi. However, various objects did survive the looting; the shield boss was found in a copper cauldron along with an iron dagger and the fragments of a silver bowl, now also in the British Museum. It is decorated with a frieze showing lions in combat with bulls: a typical Near Eastern motif. The eight holes arranged in pairs drilled round the centre of the boss were for its attachment to the shield.

    The very widespread use of motifs such as this shows the commercial contacts established by the Canaanites of the Levant coast (known as Phoenicians) in the first millennium BC. They grew rich by supplying luxury materials to Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Iran. Their natural harbours became major ports for handling international shipping.

    L.P. di Cesnola, Cyprus: its ancient cities, to (London, John Murray, 1877)