Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Plaque with two male figures supporting a roller

Old Babylonian
ca. 2000–1600 B.C.
4 x 4 1/8 in. (10.2 x 10.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Norbert Schimmel and Schimmel Foundation, Inc., Gifts and Rogers Fund, 1980
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 403
In this openwork bronze, two kneeling male figures grasp the terminals of a roller (comprised of two vertical elements, a pin, and a roller now immobilized by corrosion). This type of plaque is dated to the early second millennium B.C. largely on the basis of their imagery. Few provenanced plaques are known, but these objects appear to have been used from eastern Anatolia to western Iran – a reflection of the strong international connections of the period.

Although the precise function of bronze rollers remains unclear, the roller and the aperture at the bottom of this example suggest that it would have been used with a cord, strap, or fabric. The appearance of the two fully modeled male figures – shaved except for a forelock and wearing short belted kilts – may characterize them as temple attendants. It has been suggested that openwork bronzes may have been affiliated with the temple, used either in the production of textiles or as elements of temple furniture. Other proposals identify objects like this as horse trappings or belt buckles.
Acquired by the Museum in 1980, purchased from the sale "Bronzes et Terres Cuites du Louristan et de la Caspienne" at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 26th September, 1980, lot no. 22.

“Ancient Art: Gifts from the Norbert Schimmel Collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 4, 1991–September 15, 1991.

Hôtel Drouot. 1980. Bronzes et Terres Cuites du Louristan et de la Caspienne. 26 September 1980, Paris, lot 22.

Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 111 (July 1,1980 - June 30, 1981), p. 23.

Harper, Prudence O. 1980-1981. "Bronze Plaque with Two Male Figures Supporting a Roller." Notable Acquisitions (Metropolitan Museum of Art), p. 7.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 1988. Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 337, no. 469.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 1992. "Ancient Art: Gifts from the Norbert Schimmel Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, p. 53, no. 3.
Related Objects

Openwork plaque with figures

Date: ca. 2000–1600 B.C. Medium: Bronze Accession: 1984.454.1a, b On view in:Gallery 403

Plaque with a nude female between two bearded males wearing kilts

Date: ca. 2000–1600 B.C. Medium: Bronze Accession: 1998.31 On view in:Gallery 403

Necklace pendants and beads

Date: ca. 18th–17th century B.C. Medium: Gold Accession: 47.1a-h On view in:Gallery 406

Sickle sword

Date: ca. 1307–1275 B.C. Medium: Bronze Accession: 11.166.1 On view in:Gallery 406

Man carrying a box, possibly for offerings

Date: ca. 2900–2600 B.C. Medium: Copper alloy Accession: 55.142 On view in:Gallery 403