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Home > Auctions > 25th May 2021 > 'The Oxshott' Roman Military Statuette of Mars

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LOT 0062

Estimate
GBP (£) 1,500 - 2,000
EUR (€) 1,740 - 2,330
USD ($) 2,100 - 2,810

Bid History: 12   |   Current bid: £3,700

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Bid History: 12   |   Current bid: £3,700

'The Oxshott' Roman Military Statuette of Mars

2nd-3rd century AD

A substantial bronze figurine, finely modelled as the god Mars, bearded and clothed in a military tunic and muscled cuirass; the right arm raised and the left draped with a military cloak, held down at the side; the now lost right hand may have once held a spear and the left hand was originally placed upon a circular shield; wearing a tipped-back Corinthian helmet with a large crest; detailed facial features, the eyes forming pointed ovals with distinct pupils, the nose flat and the lips full; the cloak wrapped around the body with deeply moulded folds; the muscled cuirass decorated with opposed gryphons, fitted with shoulder clasps and worn over a padded under-armour garment (subarmalis) from which finely moulded detailed lappets (pteryges) hang, at the waist a double row of hanging cymation; below the cuirass a short, vertically segmented kilt over the skirt (zoma) of the tunic; the legs dressed in greaves with moulded lacing to the back; the underside of the feet with remains of pins which may have held the figurine to a base. 230 grams, 12.6cm (5"). Fine condition, light abrasion from the burial conditions but otherwise the figurine is well preserved.

Condition report [Click to show]

Provenance
Found by Geoffrey Harfleet with the use of a metal detector on Thursday 26th December 2019, near Oxshott, Elmbridge, Surrey, UK; this is a find of note and has been designated of national importance by the Portable Antiquities Scheme; accompanied by a copy of PAS report number SUR-1C1A4E and a copy of an academic report by military specialist Dr Raffaele D'Amato.

Published
The Searcher, no.415, March 2020, front cover and article on page 16; and Treasure Hunting magazine, April 2020; accompanied with copies of the relevant magazine articles.

Literature
See Robinson, R., The Armour of the imperial Rome, New York, 1975; D'Amato, R. and Sumner, G., Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier: From Marius to Commodus, 112 BC-AD 192, London, 2009, fig.312, p.223; Durham, E., Depicting the Gods: Metal Figurines in Roman Britain, Internet Archaeology, 2012.

Footnotes
According to Durham (2012), this mature, bearded style is a less common depiction of this deity, paralleled by examples from Bury St Edmunds (in Ipswich museum, ISPMG 1936-244.10) and Wycomb in Gloucestershire.
The Lares were guardian deities in ancient Roman religion; they protected worshippers and affected the outcome of events in their own location. The true altar of the Lares was the domestic fireplace, centre of the Roman domus, and their temple the Atrium. Among the statuettes of gods Mars Gradivus was one of the most appreciated, especially in the families of military commanders in provinces such as Britannia. The statuette had its prototype in the famous statue of Mars from the Forum of Nerva, of late 1st century AD, today at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, based on a Greek original from the 4th century BC.