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Home > Auctions > 25th February 2020 > Greek Hellenistic Silver Salver with Sirens

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LOT 0942

GBP (£) 12,000 - 17,000
EUR (€) 14,090 - 19,960
USD ($) 15,660 - 22,180

Opening Bid
£12,000 (EUR 14,086; USD 15,657) (+bp*)

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Greek Hellenistic Silver Salver with Sirens

3rd-2nd century BC

A long, rectangular shallow tray with incised palmettes to the angles, arcaded band to the inner face of the flanged border, narrow parcel-gilt band to the outer face of upstand; separately cast Sirens with lion-paw foot to each corner, wings outspread supporting each corner of the tray. 6.3 kg, 56cm (22"). Fine condition; repaired in antiquity with later restoration. Rare and important.

From an important North London collection formed before 1980; accompanied by a metallurgic analytical report, written by Metallurgist Dr. Brian Gilmour of the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, report number 610/130537.

Trays of this character were used to serve food at formal banquets known as a symposium, which were a key Hellenic social institution. The symposium was a forum for men of respected families to debate in philosophical discussions. They were also frequently held to celebrate the introduction of young men into aristocratic society. Symposia were also held by aristocrats to celebrate other special occasions, such as victories in athletic and poetic contests.

This salver was probably made in one of the major urban centres of the Hellenistic kingdoms, most likely Antioch, capital of the Seleucid Empire. Antioch was founded near the end of the fourth century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals. The city's geographical, military and economic location benefitted its occupants, particularly features such as the spice trade, the Silk Road and the Persian Royal Road. Antioch was noted for its production of luxury items, such as silver ware, which eventually led to it rivalling Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East. At the height of its power the Seleucid Empire included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and what is now Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan and Turkmenistan.