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Fragment of a brazier



Head of a silen from a brazier,  Inv. T I-29

Provenance: Unknown.

State of preservation: Vessel fragment with face. Beard attached, bumped at the bottom. Lower part of the frame lost on the left side of the face; the entire upper section missing on the right. Injuries to the forehead, nose and mouth.  

Solid. Face and beard from the mould. Lower side of beard and outside of fragment smoothed. Partially heavily sintered.

Coarse brick red (2.5YR 4/5- 6/6) clay with many inclusions.

Dimensions: H: 7,0 cm; W: 7,1 cm; D: 7,2 cm.

References: Not published.


TI-29bDescription: This is a relief depiction of a face with a long beard projecting almost at right angles and a curved upper lip beard. The chin beard has a straight line and ends almost horizontally. The string-like strands, set off from each other by longitudinal grooves, are wider on the outside than on the inside and diverge slightly at the bottom. The upper part of the face is dominated by the wide open eyes, surrounded by curved lids and arched by bulging brows. The right eyeball reveals a lenticular hole. The nose is broad and flared, with large nostrils. Above the forehead a wreath composed of ivy leaves, according to the evidence of numerous parallels[1]. The face is framed by double narrow cord-like ridges that diverge slightly towards the bottom.

Commentary: The bearded head sat as an ornament on a clay brazier, an object common between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD in the Mediterranean regions, especially in the eastern part[2], but also in mainland Greece[3]. Such utensils reach a height of between 20 and 60 cm. They consist of a conical base[4], which provides ventilation and holds the ashes, and a hemispherical basin with a multi-perforated bottom for charcoal. On the inside sit three attachments, which can be used as handles and as supports for holding vessels[5]. Many of these attachments are decorated with figural motifs moulded from matrices, especially with male heads, like the Giessen piece, or with masks. Whether the braziers were used in everyday life or in cult is a matter of debate[6]. The majority of the specimens from Knidos, for example, come from the terrace of the temple and from the sanctuary of Apollo, thus indicating a sacred context[7]. In Priene, on the other hand, a cooking pot was found in the house of Lampon next to the fragments of a brazier. This, however, was filled with oil lamps[8]. Thus, the affiliation to a domestic cult cannot be completely ruled out. The pieces from the Athenian agora, which were located beneath the stoa of Attalos, are associated neither with dwellings nor with sacred buildings, but most probably with a commercial building[9] , which does not answer the question of their function.             
The Giessen fragment is slightly concave on the figural side; it thus sat on the inside of an attachment[10]. A large number of comparative pieces prove that it is the face of a Silen with a long beard, whose pointed ears can no longer be traced and whose foliate wreath is only partially preserved[11]. Due to injuries and sintering, it is also not possible to tell whether the forehead was furrowed or banded. This detail is one of the few features that distinguish two different expressions of the type. Faces with transverse furrows on the forehead are consistently framed by exact rectangles and have vertically aligned beards[12]. In specimens with a narrow band around the forehead, both the beard lines and the frames diverge[13]. The Giessen specimen apparently belongs to the second category; the piece from Priene with the maker's signature Hekataios, which dates to the 2nd century BC, belongs to the first[14]. Without seeing the parallels, only the illustrations and according to the measurements, it can be assumed that the smaller, less precisely contoured objects are moulds from "derived" and worn matrices. Through abrasion, the transverse folds on the forehead may have gradually taken on the shape of the headband. This is not an explanation for the 'curved' vertical lines. "Secondary or tertiary moulds" could have been reworked a little and perhaps adapted to a change in taste. It is questionable whether a somewhat later date of origin can be deduced from the 'curved lines' for Giessen T I-29, especially since the moulding appears relatively precise, as far as this can be said despite the moderate state of preservation. The place of manufacture cannot yet be determined either.

Determination: 2nd century BC? Asia Minor?


[1] A. Conze, Griechische Kohlenbecken, JdI 5, 1890, 118-141, 122-124; O. Didelot, Réchauds hellénistiques du Musée gréco-romain d'Alexandrie: Importations et productions locales, BCH Suppl. 33 (Paris 1998) 285-287 figs. 1-4; E. Paul, Antike Welt in Ton (Leipzig 1959) 99, no. 328 pl. 87; J. Raeder, Priene. Funde aus einer griechischen Stadt (Berlin 1984) 16. 65 fig. 3 a; M. Şahin, Rauch für die Götter, AW 6, 2005, 91-96 fig. 9; W. Schürmann, Kat. der antiken Terrakotten im Badischen Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (Göteborg 1989) 332 f. no. 1259 pl. 208, R. Tölle-Kastenbein, Samos 16 (Bonn 1974) 169 fig. 297.

[2] A. J. Decaudin, Les antiquités chypriotes:dans les collections publiques français (Nicosie 1987) 25 no. 11 pl. 11; Didelot ibid. 275-306; F. Rumscheid, Ein in situ entdecktes Kohlenbecken aus dem Haus des Lampon in Priene: Neues zur Verwendung, Chronologie, Typologie und technischen Entwicklung hellenistischer Kohlenbecken, in: Euergetes. Festschrift Prof. Dr. Haluk Abbasoglu zum 65. Geburtstag (Antalya 2008) 1077-1090; Raeder ibid. 58. 65 no. 284 fig. 3 a; Th. Wiegand – H. Schrader, Priene (Berlin 1904) 459-465 figs. 565. 568 f.; Delos, C. le Roy, Réchauds déliens, BCH 85, 1961, 474; G. Siebert, Les Réchauds, Délos 27 (Paris 1970) 267-276 ---D 388. 393 pl. 51 f.; M. Şahin, Hellenistische Kohlenbecken aus Knidos, Knidos-Studien 3 (Möhnesee 2003); M. Şahin, A Group of Brazier Handles from the Underwater Archaeological Museum in Bodrum, Adalya no. IV/1999-2000, 61-90 fig. 1. 9-11. 19. 27 f.; Schürmann ibid. no. 1259 pl. 208; F. Winter, JdI 12, 1897, 160-167 fig. 1; Tölle-Kastenbein ibid. 169 fig. 297.

[3] S. I. Rotroff, Hellenistic Pottery. The plain Wares, The Athenian Agora 33, 2006, 199-222. 322-335 pl. 74-87; Conze ibid.; B. A. Sparkes, The Greek Kitchen, JHS 82, 1962, 121-137 nos. 4-6 pl. 6; H. A. Thompson, Two centuries of Hellenistic Pottery, Hesperia 3, 1934, 420 f. figs. 108. 109 (2. Jh. v. Chr.).

[4] Şahin ibid. 2005, 92 fig. 3; Raeder ibid. 58; Rumscheid 2008, 1088 f. figs. 11-16.

[5] F. Winter, JdI 12, 1897, 160-167 fig. 1.

[6] B. A. Sparkes, The Greek Kitchen, JHS 82, 1962, 121-137 no. 4-6 pl. 6; H. A. Thompson, Two centuries of Hellenistic Pottery, Hesperia 3, 1934, 420 f. figs. 108. 109 (2. Jh. v. Chr.)

[7] Şahin ibid. 2005, 93.

[8] Rumscheid 2008, 1086 f. figs. 4. 8. 9; Winter ibid. 160-167 fig. 1.

[9] Rotroff ibid. 201; 199.

[10] Chr. Le Roy, Réchauds déliens, BCH 85, 1961, 474-500, 480. 482 figs. 6. 9.

[11] Described by Didelot as Typ I ibid. 285-287 figs. 1-4, by Şahin as Typ III, Şahin ibid. 94 f. fig. 9. Conze ibid. 126; Decaudin ibid. no. 11 pl. 11; Şahin ibid. 94.

[12] Didelot ibid. 286 figs. 1. 2; Şahin ibid. 94 f. fig. 9; Decaudin ibid. no. 11 pl. 11; Raeder ibid. 58. 65 no. 284 fig. 3 a; Rotroff ibid. 324 no. 754 pl. 75.

[13] Didelot ibid. 286 figs. 3. 4; Conze ibid. 124; Rotroff ibid. 327 no. 778-781 pl. 80.

[14] Raeder ibid. 58 no. 284 fig. 3 a; Rotroff ibid. 212-215.