• latw-222-1
    Incense shovel with cross, from HoB. (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

Incense shovel with cross

Date
Fifth to seventh century, Late Roman
Museum
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 4419
Museum Inventory No.
4419
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
M58.038
Material
Bronze/Copper Alloy
Object Type
Metalwork
Metalwork Type
Liturgical Object
Site
Sardis
Sector
HoB
Trench
HoB
B-Grid Coordinates
floor *97.29
Description
Rectangular bronze scoop, with socket on back for a handle. On the sides are two dolphins with arching tails attached to the scoop by rods round in section. Rising from the tails of the dolphins is an arch framing a cross, forming the back of the scoop. Scoop, arch, and cross are decorated with small dotted circles. Height 0.085 m, length 0.140 m, diameter of socket 0.028 m.
Comments
Dolphins were a favorite theme of artists throughout antiquity, and may have been seen as a kind of fish with a symbolic connection with Christianity; the dotted circles were thought to have protective properties in later Roman times.

The incense shovel was discovered in a room with two bronze incense burners, and could have been used in the home or elsewhere for special liturgical purposes. Found in the first year of renewed excavations at Sardis in 1958, this and other bronze objects found in this late-Roman house gave a name to this excavation sector, the “House of Bronzes” or “HoB.” Deeper excavation in this sector recovered many of the Lydian objects in this exhibition.

See Also
Greenewalt, “Introduction”.
Bibliography
Hanfmann 1959, 22-24, fig. 11; Waldbaum 1983, no. 588.
Author
NDC, MLR