Posts Tagged ‘native american situla’

Mystery of the First Century B.C. Roman Situla of an “American Indian”

s8int.com, Sophistication of Ancestors, Uncategorized, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Aug 20 2010


Photo: ROMAN (?) SITULA IN BRONZE REPRESENTING HUMAN HEAD, BELIEVED TO BE OF A NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN. Lu Louvre, 1830. Click for Higher Resolution.

“Bronze head (Louvre).—A curious and unique piece of bronze sculpture (Plate 53) (top left) having a possible relation to the North American Indian, belongs to the Gallery of the Louvre, Paris.

But little is known of its history. It formed part of the collection of Edmund Durand, which the King, Charles X, purchased for the Louvre in 1825. Its peculiarities were first noticed by M. Adrien de Longperier. The same article was reproduced in his work. This bronze is classed as No. 826, in the catalogue of the Museum. It is thus described:

Bust of a slave whose head and face are entirely shaved. The ears are large and hanging. The top of the skull opens by means of a hinge, which is attached to a cover. Above the ears are placed on either side rings in which are adjusted a swinging handle, which represents a branch or twig with buds.

It is first to be remarked that the object is what was called a Roman situla, being a bucket, jug, or kettle, which might be used as shown, for carrying liquids. This style of object is essentially Roman, and from it and the general appearance of the object, its patina, etc., it was the opinion of M. de Cueleneer, professor of the university at Ghent, by whom my attention was first called to it, that the object belonged, or could be assigned to the century before the Christian era.

The author once lived in Ghent, where he was acquainted with M. de Cueleneer, who has been twice in Washington, and during his visit to the National Museum became much interested in the Catlin Gallery of Indian Portraits, of which the United States National Museum published a catalogue filling the entire report of the year 1885. The author procured a copy of this report for M. de Cueleneer, who has used it with good effect in his notice of the bronze situla now under consideration.

It was his opinion, although this bronze piece was made probably in Italy during the first century prior to the Christian era, that it represented, or may have represented, a red Indian from America. In support of this contention he presented about a dozen figures of Indian heads, taken principally from the National Museum Catalogue of the Catlin Gallery; and he called special attention to the similarity of the anatomical and somatologic characteristics and peculiarities represented in both.

He says of the bronze head that the skull is dolichocephalic, the forehead is retreating, the ears are large and low and the lobes adherent, the eyebrows are strongly arched, the nose is aquiline, the angles of the mouth are turned up and the lips large, the under jaw is rounded, the occiput is protuberant.

The discovery of this bronze afforded M. de Longperier in a partial, and M. de Cueleneer in a complete manner, the opportunity to correlate and explain certain fragments of notes by Cornehus Nepos which seemed to have always troubled and disconcerted commentators. He speaks of the “Indian slaves” as having been cast away by the sea on the coast of Germany. These fragmentary notes of Cornelins Xepos have been preserved by Pomponius Mela and by Pliny, the naturalist.

1 Hull, de la Soc. imp. deR Antiti. de France, 1859, pp. 83-85 (t. XXVI des Memoires).
2 Volume II, pp. 452, 453.

^Notice des bronzes antiques exposes dans les galeries de Musce Imperial du Louvre, lri partie, 1S68, p. 143.
Testnm autem rei, Quintum Metellam Celerem adieit, enmqno ita rettnlisse commemorat: cum Gallia- proconsule pracessit, Indos i|iiosdinn a rege Botorum dona sibi datos; mule in eas terras deveuissont requirendo cognosse, vi tompestatum ex Indicia a-qnoribu* abreptoa, emensosque qua: intererant, tandem in Germaniai litora exissc.

Pliny records the same fact as follows:2
Idem Nepoe do septentrionali circuitu tradit Qninto Metello C’eleri L. Afraui in consulatn collega’, Bed turn Gallia; proeonsuli, Indos a rege Snevornm dono datos, qm ex India commerei causa navigautes tcmpestatibus essent in Germanium abrepti.

The reports of these two writers agree in all essential parts, except the word Rotorum in Pomponins Mela, and Snevornm in Pliny. Subject to this variation, the story of both, as reported by Cornelius Nepos, is that a king (of the Botes or of the Sueves) made a present to Qnintins Metellus Celeri of an Indian or Indians, who, having been cast away at sea, were stranded on the coast of Germany.

M. de Cueleneer, in his paper, “Type d’lndien du Nouveau Monde Hepresente sur un Bronze Antique du Louvre” (1890), goes profoundly into this branch of the subject, shows who Metellus was, where, and at what epoch he was in command, and how he might have received from one of the barbarian kings or tribes a present of slaves, which might have been Indian castaways from the coast of North America.

He then recites the discovery of the bronze situla in the Louvre, and by an examination of its workmanship and appearance concludes it was made in Italy during the first century before the Christian era, and from its great resemblance to the red race of America, as represented in the Catlin Gallery, he concludes the chances are favorable for it having been a sculptural representation of a North American Indian.”…….

Source: Prehistoric art; or, The origin of Art as Manifested in the Works of Prehistoric Man.. 1898
By Thomas Wilson, Edwin Porter Upham