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Silver bowl from the first Cyprus treasure

 

Diameter: 24.300 cm
Height: 7.800 cm
Weight: 922.000 g

M&ME 1899,4-25,2

Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100

    Silver bowl from the first Cyprus treasure

    Early Byzantine, AD 641-51
    From Constantinople or possibly Tarsus (modern Turkey); found west of Kyrenia, Cyprus on the ancient site of Lambousa

    The bust of a military saint

    This bowl, together with a paten, hexagonal censer and twenty-four spoons, was found at the end of the nineteenth century by villagers quarrying the ruins of ancient Lambousa for building materials.

    In the centre of the bowl is a half-length image of a saint, possibly Sergius, an officer in the Roman army who incurred the anger of Emperor Maximian (died AD 310). He is shown beardless and with short curly hair, wearing a military costume which includes a chlamys (cloak) held by a crossbow fibula (brooch) at the shoulder and a type of torc called a maniakion. He holds a Latin cross and is nimbed. A band of engraved and nielloed wave scrolls and linked circles surround him. Another decorated band of acanthus leaves and beading runs along the upper rim of the bowl.

    Although the subject matter is Christian, the bowl itself was probably made for domestic use, perhaps by a military man devoted to this particular saint.

    This is one of the last silver objects to bear the control stamps which were placed on silver made in official workshops of the Byzantine Empire. Five stamps dated to the reign of emperor Constans II (AD 641-51) are arranged inside the foot-ring. Tarsus in Asia Minor is named twice on one stamp, thus the bowl may have been made there.

    D. Buckton (ed.), Byzantium: treasures of Byzant (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

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