Furasiev A.G. Cloisonné Zoomorphic Mounts of the Early 5th Century from Kertch: Function and Meaning

Aleksey G. Furasiev, Candidate of Sciences (History), Leading Researcher, Department of Eastern European and Siberian Archaeology, State Hermitage Museum, Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya, 34, 190000 Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8450-2574

Abstract. Among the finds from two vaults of the late antique necropolis of Bosporus discovered by robbers on June 24, 1904 there is a pair of zoomorphic mounts made in the technique of cloisonné inlay. In modern scientific literature, the issue of the interpretation and semantics of this zoomorphic image has not been considered so far. According to the author, the things reproduce the image of the Roman Capricorn. The composition of doubled figures or a protomes of these creatures turning their heads in different directions was first encountered on rare items of the Augustian time, most often on coins (1st c. BC – 1st c. AD). The composition in the form of a double Capricorn was first noted on the cameo of Augustus from the Metropolitan Museum (early 1st c. AD), as well as on the coins of Titus (79–81). In the period of 4th – 5th centuries, corresponding to the time of burials in the crypts, this composition was depicted on miniatures of Notitia Dignitatum reproducing shield emblems of various units of the late Roman army. Although the actual image of Capricorn on the emblems of Notitia Dignitatum is absent (most likely it is the result of some modernization carried out by medieval painters), this compositional principle of dual zoomorphic figures fully corresponds to the inlaid mounts from Kerch. It was suggested that these mounts found
in the crypts of “June 24, 1904” were also the emblems of any of the Roman legions mounted to the leather upholstery of the shield. Other details of the parade shields (gilded umbo and rivets) are represented in the materials from these burials.
Key words: late antique necropolis of Bosporus, cloisonné, Roman army emblems, cloisonne inlayd, Capricorn.
Citation. Furasiev A.G., 2019. Cloisonné Zoomorphic Mounts of the Early 5th Century from Kertch: Function and Meaning. The Lower Volga Archaeological Bulletin, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 181-196. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/nav.jvolsu.2019.2.12
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