Some Interesting Auction Items

Catching up with email last night (we’re in the pre-back-to-school-throw-your-routine-out-of-whack phase), I came across a link to Timeline Auctions’ upcoming antiquities offerings. I don’t recall ever having mentioned them before, but they appear to be one of many smaller auction houses who also sell via Live Auctioneers, which we have somewhat hesitantly mentioned before (here too). As we’ve seen in the past with these sorts of auctons, provenance varies greatly, e.g., this nice little Lar:

… comes from an old private collection formed in the 1950’s” (see the full description for a larger version of the image; all photos in this post come from the auction house itself)

The most interesting item is this second-century ‘addorsed double bust’:

… again, see the official description for larger versions … what’s interesting, of course (outside of the lack of a provenance) is that this one is male on one side and female on the other.  The faces, though, are somewhat similar when viewed side-by-side so I’m wondering if this might not be a depiction of Tieresias, before and after, as it were …

Also catching my eye were a pair of “bronze steelyard weights” which were the property of “a deceased detectorist”:

… (official description … one of the things is ‘a mount’) … which reminded me that ‘boxer’ found in Israel a year or so ago. As with the boxer, these items are said to be ‘weights’ used with hanging scales. What I find interesting is that we’re never given the actuall mass/weight of these things. Are they some standard weight? Anyone know?

The final item of interest (to me) is a Roman oil lamp, from the “Hornbeam collection”, which purports to show a female gladiator:

… the larger photo is definitely worth looking at, as “she” is described as holding a “mace and a shield” and this raised a bunch of questions for me (as folks who follow me on twitter and/or facebook know). First, how would one distinguish between an Amazon and a gladiatrix? Terrence Lockyer suggested that if the helmet had a visor, that might be the basis of the identification by the auction house (or collector).  That said, it’s worth comparing this particular individual to an Amazonomachia scene on a sarcophagus, apparently at the Louvre:

via wikipedia

… in which we see what appears to be a ‘characteristic’ shield and the weapon the ‘lady of the lamp’ is holding (i.e. an ax) … but not a helmet. In another scene, also at the Louvre, however:


… we get another interpretation . Note the warrior on the left, with her clothing off her shoulder, the crested helmet, and the shield. For those who were chatting with me about this, I think the thing I thought might be a ‘tragedy mask’ (i.e. the shield) is a shield; that’s probably a gorgon on the lamp. Whatever the case, clearly this lamp is depicting an Amazon. Someone could say it’s a gladiatrix dressed like an Amazon, I suppose …

I find it curious, however, that at least one of these items (the ‘Tieresias’) is being offered in such a ‘quiet’ environment; even the lamp — especially if it did portray a gladiatrix — would be of interest to a more ‘major’ auction house, no? hmmmmm …

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