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

Not on view

Additional views (1)

Side B

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