Exhibitions/ Art Object

The Attarouthi Treasure

Date:
500–650
Geography:
Made in Attarouthi, Syria
Culture:
Byzantine
Medium:
Silver, silver-gilt
Classification:
Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and Henry J. and Drue E. Heinz Foundation, Norbert Schimmel and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 1986
Accession Number:
1986.3.1–.15
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300
When acquired by the Museum, the objects were in a good state of preservation. The surfaces, with their decoration worked in relief (repoussé) and engraved detail, had not been altered by overcleaning, and only two of the chalices (1986.3.2 and 1986.3.3) showed signs of having been partially reshaped. Some calcareous deposits and products of corrosion—evidence of their burial—remained on the exterior and had to be removed, but the vessels have not been polished further, and the original burnishing marks are still visible.

These well-wrought liturgical objects—chalices, censers, a strainer, and a representation of the dove of the Holy Spirit—were among the possessions of a Christian church in the affluent merchant town of Attarouthi in Syria, then one of the richest lands of the Byzantine Empire. The chalices, censers, and strainer were used for the Divine Liturgy, or Eucharist, in which Christians take consecrated wine and bread in commemoration of the Last Supper and Christ’s death. According to their inscriptions, written in Greek with several spelling variants, many of the objects were offerings of local citizens to the major church of the town, which was dedicated to Saint Stephen, and to a smaller church dedicated to Saint John (probably Saint John the Forerunner [the Baptist]). In the early seventh century Syria fell first to the Sasanian Persians and then to the armies of Islam. These works were probably buried in haste in a protective container at some moment when the Byzantine army was retreating from attacks on the region.
Church in Attarouthi, Syria; [ Elias Bustros, Beirut (by 1940)]; Sleiman Abou Taam, Beirut and Switzerland (1965–1986)
Frazer, Margaret English. "Silver Liturgical Objects from Attarouthi in Syria." In Byzantine Studies Conference Abstracts of Papers. Vol. 14. Madison, Wisconsin: Byzantine Studies Conference, 1988. pp. 13-14.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Twentieth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1989, through June 30, 1990." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 120 (1990). p. 28.

Maguire, Henry P. The Icons of their Bodies: Saints and Their Images in Byzantium. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. no. 88, pp. 104-105.

Dandridge, Pete. "A Study of the Gilding of Silver in Byzantium." In Gilded Metals: History, Technology and Conservation. London: Archetype Publications, 2000. pp. 125-139, fig. 7.1.

Eisenberg, Jerome M. "The New Byzantine Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Minerva 12, no. 3 (2001). pp. 26-27, fig. 13.

Elbern, Victor. "Zehn Kelche und eine Taube : Bemerkungen zum liturgischen Schatzfund von Attarouhti [ Attarouthi ]." Oriens Christianus 88 (2004). pp. 233-253, fig. 1.

Dandridge, Pete. "The Exhibition of Unlacquered Silver at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 44 (2005). pp. 178-179.

Piguet-Panayotova, Dora. "The Attarouthi Chalices." Mitteilungen zur spätantiken Archäologie und byzantinischen Kunstgeschichte 6 (2009). pp. 9-76.

Hunter-Crawley, Heather. "The Cross of Light: Experiencing Divine Presence in Byzantine Syria." In Experiencing Byzantium: Papers from the 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Newcastle and Durham, April 2011, edited by Claire Nesbitt, and Mark Jackson. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2011. pp. 178, 181.

Scott, David A. Ancient Metals: Microstructure and Metallurgy. Vol. 1. Los Angeles: Conservation Science Press, 2011. p. 41.

Evans, Helen C., and Brandie Ratliff, ed. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, 7th–9th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. no. 22A - N, pp. 9, 41 - 44.



Related Objects

The Attarouthi Treasure - Chalice

Date: 500–650 Medium: Silver and gilded silver Accession: 1986.3.3 On view in:Gallery 300

The Attarouthi Treasure - Censer

Date: 500–650 Medium: Silver and gilded silver with copper liner Accession: 1986.3.11 On view in:Gallery 300

The Attarouthi Treasure - Chalice

Date: 500–650 Medium: Silver and gilded silver Accession: 1986.3.4 On view in:Gallery 300

The Attarouthi Treasure - Censer

Date: 500–650 Medium: Silver and gilded silver with copper liner Accession: 1986.3.12 On view in:Gallery 300

The Attarouthi Treasure - Chalice

Date: 500–650 Medium: Silver and gilded silver Accession: 1986.3.7 On view in:Gallery 300