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Gold bowl 
decorated with bulls

about 600 BC

British Museum

British Museum

This shallow gold bowl (philae) is decorated with six bulls in relief. They are identical and were hammered over the same former. They have prominent ribs and very large cloven hooves. The bowl probably originally had a gemstone inlaid in the centre. To one side of this is a dotted crescent moon. The bowl was found in Sicily, in a tomb with three other bowls which have since been lost. Although probably a western Greek product, its style betrays strong Phoenician influence. During the Orientalizing period of the seventh century BC, Greek contacts with the Phoenicians and other eastern peoples had intensified. This was not only a phenomenon of the eastern Mediterranean: the Phoenicians were great voyagers, and travelled and founded colonies in the west. Here they came into contact with Greeks who had also travelled westwards from their homeland. Phoenicians had settled in Sicily. It has been suggested that the western Greeks, at the fringes of their influence, made this bowl locally and given it as a valuable gift to a native Sicilian king, to secure his friendship.

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Details

  • Title: Gold bowl 
decorated with bulls
  • Date Created: about 600 BC
  • Location Created: Sant’Angelo Muxaro, Sicily
  • Medium: gold
  • Copyright: The Trustees of the British Museum
  • British Museum website: 1772,0314.70

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