Centaur Playing the Lyre

By
Michele Asuni
Michele Asuni is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Classics at Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to Hopkins, he received a BA and an MA, both in Classical Philology and Ancient History, from the University of Pisa. Primarily a Hellenist, his main interests lie in archaic and classical Greek literature and culture, textual criticism, and Silver Latin. He is currently completing a dissertation on the aesthetics of color in Greek literature, from Homer to Heliodorus.

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  • Accession Number: JHUAM HT 321
  • Measurements: Length: 9.3cm, Width: 6.6cm Height: 1.9cm
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Culture/Date: Roman, 1st c. BCE-1st c. CE
  • Provenance: Tyre, Syria

This is a mold-made pottery lamp with a volute nozzle. The discus scene features a centaur playing a lyre. The filling hole is beneath the centaur’s hind feet. The lamp had a brown, glossy finish that has largely worn off. On the lamp’s base is an inscription that records the potter’s name: FAVSTI. A Roman reader would have understood this word to mean “from Faustus’ workshop.” _D3M1042webScholars have argued that this lamp maker was active between the end of the Augustan period and the reign of Tiberius. He probably was an itinerant potter who traveled from Italy to Cyprus, Petra (in modern-day Jordan), and then Egypt. This would explain the varied provenance of the more than 80 FAVSTI lamps catalogued by museums around the world. Further examples can be seen at the British Museum (Lamp Q1886) and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (74.51.2167, 74.51.2169, 74.51.2164, 74.51.2162)

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