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Home > Auctions > 6th September 2022 > Large Roman Chariot Fitting with Eagle Protome and Swans

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LOT 0135

GBP (£) 4,000 - 6,000
EUR (€) 4,780 - 7,170
USD ($) 4,870 - 7,310

Opening Bid
£3,600 (EUR 4,304; USD 4,385) (‡+bp*)

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Bid History: 0

A substantial copper-alloy chariot rein-guide composed of a gently tapering octagonal body, the upper part formed as an eagle's head with semi-naturalistic hooked beak, eye and feather detailing, collar at the base of neck incised with chevrons, two upward-curving tapering round-section arms terminating with stylised swan's heads with eye detailing, the front facet of the body incised with a vine motif; circular piercing to reverse. 7 1/4 in. (1.23 kg, 18.5 cm wide).

Ex private collection, acquired 1970-1980s; thence by descent.
Private collection, since 1998.
With Bonhams, London, 12 December 1996, lot 363.
Accompanied by an academic report by Dr. Raffaele D’Amato.
Accompanied by copies of the relevant Bonham's catalogue pages.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11320-189892.

Cf. Boube-Piccot, C., Les bronzes antiques de Maroc, III, Les chars et l’attelage, Rabata, 1980, p.199, no.333, from Banasa; cf. Wenedikov, I., ‘Le mors thrace’ in BIbulg., XXI, Sofia, 1957, pp.153-201, pl.97, and Gudea, N., Porolissum. Un complex arheologic daco-roman la marginea de nord a Imperiului roman. II. Vama romana (monografie arheologica). Contributii la cunoasterea sistemului vamal din provinciile dacice, Cluj-Napoca, 1996, fig.31, for the reconstructive system; a similar sheath have been found with the chariot of Nicomedia, and other similar with the opened lateral rings showing serpents (often cobras) have been found in Thrace: three with the chariot from the tumulus of Doukhowa-Moghila, four with the cart of Ljubimec (Wenedikov, 1957, pl.55A, fig.190-192; p.40, no.150, pl.30, fig.107), four with the cart from Svilengrad; a single isolated find has been discovered in the Burgos region.

The chariot which this fitting once adorned would not have been used in war, but in circuses and triumphal processions. Consequently, elaborate finials such as this one became de rigueur, conferring a unique look on each chariot, where they were mounted on posts above each wheel. The eagle was an important symbol in Rome and was sacred to Jupiter, the supreme god of the Roman pantheon who was the protector of the empire. The swans may reference the story of Leda, which although Greek in origin, enjoyed great popularity in Roman society.