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Home > Auctions > 25th February 2020 > Roman Enamelled Mount with Phalli

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LOT 0126

GBP (£) 3,000 - 4,000
EUR (€) 3,520 - 4,700
USD ($) 3,910 - 5,220

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£2,700 (EUR 3,169; USD 3,523) (+bp*)

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Roman Enamelled Mount with Phalli

2nd-3rd century AD

A substantial and colourful rectangular bronze belt mount with enamel, fitted with two moving phalli, four fastening pins to the back; to the narrow sides the triangular pattern of the tabula ansata; to the long sides, two and three eyelets, the main field decorated with fields of blue, green and orange enamel; in the middle a raised rosette, and an articulated phallus on each side. 73 grams, 67mm (2 5/8"). Very fine condition. Extremely rare.

From the private collection of Gareth While since 2002; previously with Gorny & Mosch, Munich, Germany, 2002, lot 3201; accompanied by a copy of the relevant Gorny & Mosch catalogue pages and an old dealer's ticket.

See Hughes, M.J. A technical study of opaque red glass of the Iron Age in Britain, in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, no.38, London, 1972, pp.98-107, Bateson, J.D and Hedges, R.E.M. The Scientific Analysis of a group of Roman Age enamelled brooches in Archaeometry 17, 2, Oxford, 1975; Bishop, M. C. - Coulston, J.C.N., Roman military equipment, from the Punic wars to the fall of Rome, London, 2006.

Roman belt fittings of the 2nd-3rd century AD differ radically from earlier types, with most of them incorporating openwork patterns and enamel embellishments, and many showing traces of Celtic decorative influence. Similar belt plaques have been recovered from Newstead (Bishop & Coulston, 2006, p.145) and Caerleon. The enamel varied in use of colours and decorations. A 1975 study by Bateson and edges into 33 enamelled Roman brooches used X-ray fluorescence to determine the colourants and opacifiers used to create the different colours of enamel used. Blue, green and red can all be produced by copper depending on its oxidation and co-ordination but blue could also be made by using cobalt. The red opaque glass studied by Hughes (1972) contained cuprous oxides. The enamel here fits into this pattern. Testing both British and Continental brooches, from the 400 year period of the Roman occupation of Britain, it has been discovered that were no great differences in the chemical composition of the enamel between Britain and the continent or from the first to the fourth century AD (Bateson and Hedges 1975, p.188).