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Two New Silver Shapes from Semibratny (Seven Brothers' Tumuli)

  • David W.J. Gill


Two vessels reconstructed from fragments found at Semibratny in the Kuban are discussed, a pyxis with the base fitted into the walls, and a stemmed dish in profile closely related to the stemmed kantharos.



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Acknowledgements. I am indebted to Michael Vickers for his generosity in sharing his notes and sketches of the silver fragments from Semibratny with me. In addition, I am grateful to the Hermitage Museum, where the fragments are now housed, for giving me permission to publish.

The following abbreviations are used:

Artamonov: Artamonov, M. I., Treasures from Scythian Tombs in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad (London 1969).

Compte-Rendu: Compte-Rendu de la commission impériale archéologique (St Petersburg).

Neverov: Neverov, O., Kultura i iskusstvo antichnogo mira (Leningrad 1981).

Rostovtzeff: Rostovtzeff, M., Iranians and Greeks in South Russia (Oxford 1922).

1 Range of shapes: von Bothmer, D., ‘A Greek and Roman Treasury’, BMMA 42, 1 (1984); Gill, D. W. J., ‘Classical Greek Fictile Imitations of Precious Metal Vases’, in Vickers, M. (ed.), Pots and Pans: Precious Metal and Ceramics in the Muslim, Chinese and Graeco-Roman Worlds (Oxford Studies in Islamic Art 4, Oxford 1986) 930; Gorbunova, K. S., ‘Engraved Silver Kylikes from the Semibratny Barrows’, in Kultura i iskusstvo antichnogo mira (Leningrad 1971) 1838, 123; Oliver, A. Jr, Silver for the Gods: 800 Tears of Greek and Roman Silver (Toledo 1977); Strong, D. E., Greek and Roman Gold and Silver Plate (London 1966); Vickers, M., Scythian Treasures in Oxford (Oxford 1979); Vickers, M., Impey, O., and Allan, J., From Silver to Ceramic (Oxford 1986).

2 Silver pyxides: e.g. Boston 1971.47 (Oliver (n.1) 53 no. 21), New York 03·24.6 from Bolsena (Strong (n. 1) pl. 28b; Oliver (n. 1) 55 no. 22; von Bothmer (n. 1) 11, 61 no. 108), New York 1972.118.157 (von Bothmer (n. 1) 49 no. 81), New York 1982·11·11A–C (von Bothmer (n. 1) 57 no. 101; with separate inner container), once Rothschild Collection (De Juliis, E. M., Gli Ori di Taranto in Età Ellenistica (Milan 1984) 44, 56 no. 6). Fictile pyxides with three feet: e.g. Drougou, S. and Touratsoglou, G., Hellenistikoi Laxeutoi Taphoi Beroias (Athens 1980) pls. 5 nos. 1207–9, 25 no. 1341, 71 nos. 1207–8, 72 no. 1207; Reading 26.xii.27 (CVA 1 (12) pl. 40 (567) 5ab); Brussels A1763 (CVA 3 (3) pl. 2 (140) 9). Suspended cones are found on the undersides of both figure decorated and plain stemless cups from the workshop of Beazley's Amphitrite Painter, e.g. Stuttgart KAS 113 (CVA 1 (26) pl. 28 (1240) 1–3); cf. Agora xii. 103 and fig. 5 no. 484. Cone on fourth-century pots: e.g. Agora xii fig. 8 nos. 759, 763, 769, 806, 830, 832, 835, 837. Lids of lekanides: e.g. Agora xii fig. 11 no. 1220; proportions similar to the silver lid are found on a toy Attic lekanis from Athens, London 1842·7–28·876.

3 Ivory–working in Classical Greece: Barnett, R. D., ‘Ancient Ivories in the Middle East’ (QEDEM 14, Jerusalem 1982) 61–4. Ivory and silver on furniture: e.g. Penelope's chair, ‘they set a chair for her to sit on close by the fireplace. / The chair was inlaid with ivory and silver’ (Hom. Od. xix. 55–6). Chryselephantine statues: Barnett, op. cit. 61–4. Mycenaean pyxides from the Areopagos: Agora BI 511 and 512 (Agora xiii pls. 32, 33; Agora xiv pls. 17b, 18). Other ivory pyxides include a Mycenaean pyxis from Menidi (LH IIIB) and a Roman one from Asia Minor (Barnett, op. cit. pls. 30f, 70a). Rhodian fictile pyxis: e.g. Rhodes 14749: Coldstream, J. N., Greek Geometric Pottery (London 1968) 275 and pl. 62a. Ivory at Athens: Plut. Per. xii. 6. Alcibiades' shield: Ath. xii. 534e. Couches at Akragas: Ael. VH xii. 29. Couch from the Kerameikos: Kerameikos ix. 62 fig. 22 pls. 101–3. Kul Oba plaques: Minns, E. H., Scythians and Greeks (Cambridge 1913) 204A–D figs. 100–3; M– Vaulina and Wasowicz, A., Bois grecs et romains de l'Ermitage (Warsaw 1974) pls. viii–xi. Relationship of pottery and ivory: Vickers, M., ‘The Influence of Exotic Materials on Attic White-ground Pottery’, in Brijder, H. A. G. (ed.), Ancient Greek and Related Pottery (Allard Pierson Series 5, Amsterdam 1984) 8897. White-ground pottery: Kurtz, D. C., Athenian White Lekythoi (Oxford 1975); Mertens, J. R., Attic White-Ground: Its Development on Shapes other than Lekythoi (New York and London 1977).

4 Kuban dishes: AA 28 (1913) 329 fig. 10 and 331 no. 6; other pairs are known from Spina (Ferrara 2043, T·456) and Bologna (Certosa 355). Fictile shape: Agora xii. 141–2. Silver kantharoi: AA 27 (1912) 187 fig. 15 (from the Taman); Filow, B. D., Die Grabhügelnekropole bei Duvanlij in Südbulgarien (Sofia 1934) 108, in, figs. 132, 135 pl. vii (from Duvanli); Oliver (n. 1) 28–9 no. 4 (from Greece). Roscigno kantharos: Oliver (n. 1) 29 no. 4a; Holloway, R. R. and Nabers, N., ‘Le Canthare d'argent de Roscigno (Monte Pruno, Salerne)’, in Hackens, T. (ed.), Études sur l'orfèvrerie antique Aurifex i (Louvain 1980) 6479. Imitation of metalwork: Gill (n. 1); Vickers, M., ‘Les Vases peints: image ou mirage?’, in Lissarague, F. and Thelamon, F. (eds.), Image et céramique grecque. Actes du Colloque de Rouen 25–26 novembre 1982 (Rouen 1983) 2944; id., ‘Artful Crafts: the Influence of Metalwork on Athenian Painted Pottery’, JHS 105 (1985) 108–28; id., ‘Silver and Ceramics in Ancient Athens’, in Vickers, Pots and Pans … n. 1) 137–51; Vickers et al., From Silver to Ceramic (n. 1); for an opposite view, e.g. Hill, D. K., ‘The Technique of Greek Metal Vases and Its Bearing on Vase Forms in Metal and Pottery’, AJA 51 (1947) 248–56; Robertson, M., ‘Beazley and Attic Vase Painting’, in Kurtz, D. C. (ed.), Beazley and Oxford (Oxford 1986) 1930.

5 I am grateful to Michael Vickers for pointing out the similarity between the fragmentary cup-skyphos (SBr.VI. 13) and the one from Nymphaion (Oxford 1885·486: Oliver (n. 1) 31 no. 6; Vickers, Scythian Treasures (n. 1) 42 fig. 9 pl. xiiia; Gill (n. 1) 18 fig. 16).

6 Tumulus III: Minns (n. 3) 206, 210. Gold plaque (SBr.III.20): Exhibition Catalogue, Grand Palais, Or des Scythes, Trésors des musées soviétiques (Paris 1975) 146 no. 49.

7 Lack of pottery at Carthage: Fulford, M. G., ‘Pottery and the Economy of Carthage and its Hinterland’, Opus 2 (1983) 12.Boardman, J. (Greeks Overseas (London 1980) 259) has noticed the lack of pottery in the Black Sea.

8 Agis's strategy: Xen. Hell. i. 35–6. Grain from the Black Sea: cf. Isager, S. and Hansen, M. H., Aspects of Athenian Society in the Fourth Century B.C. (Odense University Classical Studies 5, Odense 1975) 21–2. Laurion silver in Egypt: Isager and Hansen, op. cit. 23–4; Vickers, , ‘Early Greek Coinage, a Reassessment’, NC 145 (1985) 3941.

9 Dem. Lept. xx. 31–2.

10 Strabo vii. 4. 6.

11 Levels and value of grain import at Athens: Isager and Hansen (n. 8) 19,45 n. 25. Slaves and grain: Isager and Hansen (n. 8) 44. Olive oil as balance of payment: Isager and Hansen (n. 8) 36–8.

12 Johnston, A. W., ‘Some Non-Greek Ghosts’, BICS 25 (1978) 7980; Strong (n. 1) 85 and pl. 18b; Oliver (n. 1) 30 no. 5.

13 Johnston (n. 12) 79.

14 Pottery's place in the economy of Athens: Isager and Hansen (n. 8) 41.

15 Payment for corn by pottery: Singer, C., Holmyard, J. and Hall, A. R., A History of Technology i (Oxford 1954) 409; Michell, H., The Economics of Ancient Greece (Cambridge 1957) 297. Vase prices: Johnston, , Trademarks on Greek Vases (Warminster 1979) 33. Ratio of clay to silver: Vickers 1984 (n. 3) 90 n. 26; Vickers 1985 (n. 4) 120 n. 117.

16 Amateur corn-barons: CAH v. 174.

17 Minns (n. 3) 205.

18 Pottery as an isotope: Fulford, , ‘The Interpretation of Britain's Late Roman Trade: the Scope of Medieval Historical and Archaeological Analogy’, in Du Plat Taylor, J. and Cleere, H. (eds.), Roman Shipping and Trade: Britain and the Rhine Provinces (CBA Research Report 24, London 1978) 5969; id., ‘Carthage: Overseas Trade and the Political Economy, c. AD 400–700’, Reading Medieval Studies 6 (1980) 68–80; id., ‘The Long Distance Trade and Communications of Carthage, c. AD 400 to c. AD 650’, in Fulford, M. G. and Peacock, D. P. S., The Avenue du Président Habib Bourguiba, Salammbo: the Pottery and Other Ceramic Objects from the Site (Excavations at Carthage: the British Mission i. 2, Sheffield 1984) 255–62.

19 Connoisseurship and the study of Greek vases: e.g. Kurtz, D. C., ‘Gorgos' Cup: an Essay in Connoisseurship’, JHS 103 (1983) 6886; id., ‘Beazley and the Connoisseurship of Greek Vases’, in Greek Vases in the J. Paul Getty Museum 2 (Occasional Papers on Antiquities 3, Malibu 1985) 237–50. Those adherants of this ‘connoisseurship’ would do well to heed Snodgrass, A. M.'s criticisms of Classical Archaeology (‘The New Archaeologist and the Classical Archaeologist’, AJA 89 (1985) 31–7; ‘Greek Archaeology and Greek History’, Classical Antiquity 4, 2 (California Studies in Classical Antiquity 16, 2, 1985) 193–207); cf. Beard, M., review of Kurtz 1986 (n. 4) TLS 12 Sept. 1986, 103. Athens living on a ‘silver standard’: Vickers 1985 (n–4) 112–17.

20 Pind. Ol i. 1–2.

21 Plut. Alc. 4.

22 Dodwell, C. R., Anglo-Saxon Art, a New Perspective (Manchester 1982) 12.

23 Kurtz 1975 (n. 3) 70.

24 Strong (n. 1) 74.

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Two New Silver Shapes from Semibratny (Seven Brothers' Tumuli)

  • David W.J. Gill


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