Hellenistic bronze pitcher from Tazha and some notes on the Early Hellenistic toreutics

  • Vladislav Zhivkov Department of Classical Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2 Saborna Str, 1000 Sofia
Keywords: Bronze pitcher, Early Hellenistic Thrace, Thracian art

Abstract

The article examines a chance find pitcher, discovered in 1934 in the region of nowadays village of Tazha, Kazanlak municipality (probably from destroyed burial mound). The item is clearly of local manufacture and most fascinating – it is made from copper alloy. Although heavily damaged, from 1 to 7 equal ornaments from three different types are preserved, positioned in horizontal rows. They are all embossed, worked in repoussé technique using a stamp, outlined, and several details are added with free hand afterwards. On the lowest row there is a single image of fish and just above it there are seven birds, probably ducks. Most interesting are the partly preserved bull heads, ornaments known from many metalworking tools, especially in Northwestern Bulgaria, but attested on much fewer Thracian metal vases.
This study aims to propose a clear date for the pitcher and determine its role in Hellenistic Thrace. With the archaeological context lost, a formal-typological analysis is conducted, which points to a date in the late 4th or the first half of 3rd c. BC.
With the closest geographical and chronological parallel being with another chance find – a silver pectoral from somewhere in Stara Zagora region, a question stands for the localization of workshop or group of closely related workshops (using similar tools), working on different types of items and materials, but with similar decoration. This atelier is probably located in Seuthopolis or in its vicinity, where, during the political upsurge during the Early Hellenistic period, probably a local bronze workshop for vases was in operation.

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Published
2019-07-09