Africa Proconsularis (modern Tunisia)
North African Roman Christian
Terracotta, African Red Slip Ware
5 3/16 × 6 10/16 × 8/16 in. (13.1 × 16.7 × 1.2 cm)
7.40 oz (210.0 g)
Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020
Collected by David P. Harris; date and dealer unknown.
This shard exhibits four breaks from the piece it was originally a part of. I will refer to them in terms of their position relative to the figure on the sherd if he is viewed with his feet down. The break above the figure appears to be the longest and most significant, and it cuts the figure off at his shoulders, preventing us from seeing his head. This makes identification of the figure more difficult. Clockwise from the first we find another break, the smallest of the four. It seems to have broken off some of the architecture in the scene, or possibly another figure. Continuing clockwise we have our third break, the second smallest, which cuts off the bottom of the cross, some of the architecture, and the possible second figure. The fourth and second longest break appears to have taken with it the corner of the room the scene takes place in.
On the front of the shard, dirt has infiltrated many of the deeper grooves carved by the artist, giving these sections a light gray contrast.
On its back are two small liquid stains which were not illuminated by UV light.
David Bonnen (’27), October 2023.
This terracotta pottery sherd depicts a cross, a seated figure, an angular floral border, and the edge of what may be another figure, symmetrically opposite the first figure. The cross is located in the center of the sherd, and it is a staurogram; a combination of the Greek letters tau and rho. It is depicted simplistically compared to the seated figure and floral border, and it bears a curved head that does not quite reach its vertical post. On the left side of the sherd is a seated figure holding a book in their left hand and wearing a finely detailed, long-sleeved robe complete with wrinkles and ripples in the fabric, implying a position of importance both in society and in the artwork itself. The figure has turned the book that they are holding towards the viewer, and the slightly out-turned pose of their right hand seems to suggest that they are explaining or reading the text aloud. The presence of the cross and the book suggests that the figure is a Christian evangelist. To the left of the figure is a thick border with swirling internal patterns that resemble ivy and flowers. The border could also be interpreted as an architectural element within the scene. To the right of the cross, just along the edge created by the fracture of the piece, the left side of a possible second figure can be seen, indicated by a few of the same wrinkles and striations we see on the robes of the primary figure.
David Bonnen (’27)