Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Phallus Pendant on Display



Given the apparent ubiquity of such things in ancient times and the salacious proclivities of the press, I'm genuinely surprised we don't hear more of finds of  this sort of thing … from Lynn News:

LYNN Museum has put on show a rare 2,000-year-old solid gold pendant with an unmistakeable shape after successfully acquiring it for its local collection.

The item, dating from Roman times, is a golden pendant in the distinctive shape of a phallus. It was declared "treasure trove" by Norfolk coroner William Armstrong at an inquest last April.

As the Lynn News exclusively revealed then, the pendant was found on land belonging to farmer Neil Riseborough at Hillington almost a year ago by metal detectorist Kevin Hillier.

Bought by the museum with help from the Friends of Lynn Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum purchase grant fund and the Headley Trust, a grant-giving body helping museums to buy objects, it is now on display from Tuesday to Saturday each week, 10am to 5pm.

Collections officer Tim Thorpe said: "The pendant is 2cm long and formed of rolled or beaten sheets of gold soldered together.

"It is a particularly rare find for Norfolk, and indeed Britain, in its depiction of a phallus made in richly coloured gold, and is in excellent condition."

He added: "Its special significance lies in the symbolism of the object and what it tells us about life in Roman times and people's beliefs. Phallic amulets were commonly worn in Roman times both as a symbol of sexuality and to promote fertility.

"Ancient Romans believed that sexual symbols like this gold phallus would shield them from harm and protect them from evil curses. Eroticism and sexuality were prevalent in every form of Roman art, from paintings to sculpture and even jewellery."

… a photo does accompany the original article. Oddly, I could not find this (or any similar items) in the Portable Antiquities Scheme database … I'm obviously not using the proper search terms.