Illustrated introduction to Mesopotamia, £8.99
Height: 5.000 cm
Width: 2.000 cm
Room 52: Ancient Iran
Parthian, 2nd century
Said to be from Masjid i-Suleiman, south-west Iran
A reclining couple
This silver pin head is decorated with an extremely detailed representation of a Parthian couple at a banquet. It is said to have been found at Masjid-i Suleiman but, unlike some bronze objects from the site which seem to have served as votive objects, this silver piece may have had a funerary purpose. It may therefore have come not from the Parthian period sanctuaries at the site but from somewhere - perhaps a grave - in the surrounding region.
The couple seem to be shown at a funerary banquet, examples of which are well known from the reliefs of Palmyra, particularly in the second and third centuries AD. The gesture of putting a comforting hand on the partner or spouse, common in Roman art, is also known from contemporary Palmyrene reliefs.
Both the male and the female figure have a similar hairstyle with long hair ending in rolls. This style was fashionable at the end of the second century AD.
Analysis by the Department of Scientific Research in the British Museum found that the pin was made from an alloy of 84% silver, 15% copper, 1% lead and 0.5% gold.
J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
V.S. Curtis, 'More Parthian finds from ancient Elymais in south-western Iran', Iranica Antiqua-1, 29/1 (1994)