Coptic Marble Relief with Saints and Graffito from Byzantine Times

Culture: Coptic
Period: 10th-11th century A.D.
Material: Marble
Dimensions: 23.2 cm x 27.2 cm
Price: 4 000 Euro
Ref: 1466
Provenance: From the collection of Joseph T. Butler, Tarrytown, New York, acquired in the 1970s. Auctioned with Ancient Resources Auctions in California on 19 July 2015, lot 93.
Condition: Unrestored
Description: Interesting fragment of a marble relief depicting the upper part of a rosette with portraits of people, possibly saints, worked into the leaves. The first head depicts a bearded man to the right, followed by another bearded man en face with a hair bun. In the centre possibly a head of a woman followed by a bearded man to the left, as well as a woman with long hair, also to the left. The rosette is surrounded on the outside by an engraved border that forms a loop on the right. See for the form the rosette in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the Accession Number 47.100.47. Above the rosette on the right a semi-circular finale gable, where Christian symbols and graffiti are engraved. Recognizable are a fish and birds. The graffiti are probably from a later period, possibly added by pilgrims. The relief is of Coptic origin, the marble, which is rare in Egypt, might either have been imported or originated from Abu Gorab. See: Josef Strzygowski “Koptische Kunst”, Vienna 1904, p. 8.