ITEM: Hemispherical bowl with pentagonal decoration CULTURE: Hellenist, Greece PERIOD: 3rd-2nd Centuries BC. MATERIAL: Silver with gold traces DIMENSIONS: Diameter 13.6 cm; height 7 cm. REF: 2014330 PRICE: 7,400 Euros. PROVENANCE: Private collection, England, acquired before 1979. CONDITION: In a good state of preservation. Intact. DESCRIPTION: A perfectly hemispherical bowl with a thick wall and flat rim, without a base. It was probably cast by the lost wax technique as, when examined under magnification, branching marks from the original casting condition can be seen on the surface of the metal.
The decoration was cold-worked with a hammer and chisel. From a marked central point still visible on the outside of the vessel decorative lines were incised first consisting of a hexagon around the central point, then six pentagons covering the entire body of the vessel, and finally six half pentagons that extend to the rim.
The rim is decorated with a complex band made up of twining ropes with circles and central dots, one to the right and one to the left framed by lines of projecting squares. Different metal stamps were used, a simple one with a blunt point, another with a hollow square section, and another with a circle and central dot. It is also possible that an S-shaped stamp was used.
Both the incisions on the body of the bowl and the band of decoration on the rim were gilded. In the case of the band on the rim, gold leaf was placed on the rim before the stamping process, which allowed a more permanent adherence of the gold to the silver underneath, and thus preserving the gilding to a greater degree than that of the incisions on the body, which has worn away more due to friction.
Hemispheric bowls without a foot are not very specific forms and not well identified when trying to specify the dating of this recipient. However, the considerable size and weight, the gilding, the band motifs on the rim and the odd working on the body would lead us to place this piece in the Hellenistic period and we may think of the eastern Mediterranean area as its place of origin. In this period the use of metallic vessels in the houses of the wealthy markedly increased. New forms and ornamentation appeared that competed for originality, without yet reaching the “baroque” of the last period, and certainly expense was not spared in the use of noble metals.