ROMAN TERRA SIGILLATA PATERA HANDLE
S O L D
Measurements: 9.6 cm − height, 6.8 cm − width
Description: An ancient Roman terra sigillata patera handle fragment of concave shape, featuring relief decoration including a ram, a bird, and various other shapes and instruments. At the handle's end there is a slight lip, below which is a perching bird on the right and an instrument on the left. Below these are traditional sacrificial instruments: a simpulum, a small ladle with a long handle used at sacrifices to make libations, a sprinkler, also used during sacrifices and libations, and an axe head, which was one of the insignia of the College of Pontiffs. Underneath these sacrificial instruments are a ram and what appears to be either a Phrygian cap or a priest's cap. The two animals displayed are connected to ancient Roman religious practices: the bird is associated with the practice of augury and 'taking the auspices', in which the flight of birds is observed to interpret omens; the ram was sacrificed during religious ceremonies and events. Paterae were vital instruments in performing offerings to the gods, with food or wine placed within them to symbolically share with the gods. This explains the religious iconography that decorates this patera handle.
Reference: Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Period: 1st - 2nd century AD
Condition: Fine, with earthy encrustations and abrasions over the whole.