Terracotta emblem bowl with head of Zeus or Sarapis
3rd–1st century B.C.
h. 2 13/16 in. (7.2 cm); d. 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
The interior medallion in high relief and flaring profile of this terracotta bowl are derived from metallic prototypes and were meant to replicate such luxury items. Clay vessels with these features were made beginning in the Hellenistic period in a variety of regions, such as Southern Italy, Asia Minor, and mainland Greece. It is therefore difficult to identify securely the place of manufacture for this bowl. The relief emblem portraying either Zeus or perhaps, due to the distinctive pattern of the hair and beard, the hellenized-Egyptian god Sarapis, is an unusual subject for the medallions of these bowls, which tend to favor Dionysiac themes and other divinities.
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