Platter with a Fish

Date: 4th–5th century

Culture: Late Roman

Medium: Bronze, silver overlaid

Dimensions: Overall: 7/8 x 15 1/16 x 7 3/16 in. (2.2 x 38.2 x 18.3 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Bronze

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1947

Accession Number: 47.100.30


In his great encyclopedia, the first-century Roman writer Pliny reports that tin plating, as seen on this platter, was invented by the Gauls. It was no doubt employed in this case to emulate silver. Numerous Gallic platters, both silver and tinned, with a fish engraved in the center still survive. The fish may have had Christian significance, but it is just as likely that it was strictly a decorative motif.