Bronze pan

Roman Britain, 1st century AD
From Faversham, Kent

Shallow pans of this kind with handles are usually known by the Latin term patera. This example was found in a Roman grave in 1881. Though the quality of the design and craftsmanship is excellent, it was in poor condition. The rim, handle and central ornament survived, but the thin sheet bronze forming the body of the vessel had corroded away, and is now replaced by restoration. The inlay in silver, copper and niello originally providing colour-contrasts (white, red and black) to the golden bronze.

The central roundel depicts the head of the gorgon Medusa surrounded by a wreath of leaves and birds. The face of Medusa had the power to turn to stone those who gazed upon it. Her image was therefore a powerful apotropaic symbol (one that can repel evil). It is a very common decorative motif in Roman art.

The handle terminates in a mask of the god Pan.

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Bronze pan

  • Detail of pan decoration

    Detail of pan decoration

 

More information

Bibliography

T.W. Potter, Roman Britain, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

Dimensions

Diameter: 24.000 cm
Length: 14.500 cm (handle)

Museum number

P&EE 1882 4-5 1

BCB63755

Location

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