Artefact from Vasil Bojkov Collection: Bronze bell-shaped situla with palmettes from 400-375 BC

The collection of Vasil Bojkov is one of those assortments of ancient artefacts with such elaborate characteristics that they mesmerize people from all over the world. Every piece is accompanied by stories, interesting facts about its origin, shape, specific ornament, the people that made it, the technique used and so on. And one such intricate piece is a bronze bell-shaped situla.

This ancient vase was designed in four pieces: the body, two handles, and the ring base. Parts of the original color of the ovoid body are still visible. Even though the vase is partially covered in a green-bluish patina, some yellow-brown to golden traces of layering are still preserved on the surface, reminding us of how great the antique craftsmanship can be. Speaking of the design of the situla and the overall making of this piece, we can see that the makers have chosen an interesting approach to the handles. The swinging handles form an arc, ending in the so-called mushroom buttons. A detail worth spending time exploring is the nine-petal palmette motif on each handle attachment ring. Between those rings, there is a lotus flower that adds an additional touch of embellishment to the piece.

Bronze bell-shaped situla

Bronze bell-shaped situla

It is precisely those palmettes that intrigue us, offering some facts which we can explore even further. In essence, such artefacts like the situla in VBC can be separated into two distinct groups, depending on the technique used for their making or their design. Thus, the technique-based group focuses on whether or not the palmette and the attachment rings are cast of a piece with the body, whereas the design-based group consists of pieces that have simple variants of the palmette motif. There are other pieces with more detailed palmette, different elements, flowers, acanthus leaves and other ornamentations as well. What also distinguishes this group is the colorful effect created by some details in silver as well as the use of copper. Interestingly enough, a piece of this sort that has been recently discovered derives from Verginia/Aigai. Bulgaria is also one of the places where such pieces were found. One situla derives from Malomorivo-Zlatnitsa. Precisely, it was discovered in a grave from the second quarter of the 4th century BC. The exact origin of the other situla is, however, unknown. What is more, there are two other fragmentary pieces, with one of them coming from Tishiki in Ukraine and the other one from Budva.

Bronze bell-shaped situla details

Bronze bell-shaped situla details

In terms of the provenance and the dating of these series of artefacts, little information is known or being confirmed. Facts are still being debated. However, for what is known, the most elaborate examples are said to have an Attic origin. Less plausibly, a Peloponnesian origin has been suggested too. Some evidence suggests that there are pieces that belong to a Macedonian court workshop as well.

The bronze bell-shaped situla that is part of Vasil Bojkov Collection is attributed to the North Aegean or Propontis and is also thought to follow some of the particular traits influenced by the Ionian style. The piece dates back to 400-375 BC.

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