Tessera with reclining figure and tree

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 Near Eastern, Palmyrene
2nd century BCE—2nd century CE
Terracotta
Hood Museum of Art: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Eddy, Class of 1934; 179.20.25871.d

This terracotta tessera depicts a reclining figure extended on a bed beneath a vine loaded with foliage. The figure is enveloped in a robe and wears cap known as a kalathos headdress that denotes his role as priest in a Palmyran temple. Beneath the bed is an inscription which reads “priests of Bel,” suggesting that this token may have granted access to a ritual banquet specifically honoring Bel, a powerful god in the Near Eastern pantheon. The other side of the tessera (above) presents a tree sprouting from a gnarled stump. Such natural imagery is common in tesserae as well as other forms of Palmyran art.

This text was prepared by Mellon Special Projects Intern Amanda Manker

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Side B

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