ROMAN MEDALLION WITH THE HEAD OF MEDUSA
MEDALLION IN THE FORM OF MEDUSA NFB 301of Nico F. Bijnsdorp
Mid 1st century AD. Italy
Dmax = 3.7 cm. Weight = 12 gr.
Condition: Intact. Traces of grinding.
Technique: Cast/pressed into open mold.
Description: Translucent cobalt blue glass with a thin opaque white layer on the backside.
Circular medallion with rounded edge. Head of Medusa modelled in high relief (8.5 mm) surrounded by snakes. Deep set, bulging eyes, narrow nose and open mouth. Dots under chin. Flattened backside.
Remarks: A medallion like this was often given as a military decoration (phalera) to soldiers for distinguished action during battle or for merit. A phalera was attached to the soldier’s breastplate to be shown during parades.
The layer of opaque white glass at the back of the phalera makes the glass appear less dense by reflecting light back out of the glass (Newby).
Provenance: Ex the David and Jennifer Giles Collection, Sasson Ancient Art Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel.
References: Newby 1999, the Dolf Schut Collection, No. 28. , Kunz 1981, Kunstmuseum Luzern, No. 340.