Small Phalera
Manerbio sul Mella, Italy
1st c. BCE
9.5 cm. diameter
Silver
Brescia, Museo Civico dell’Età Romana

Nine heads encircling a large central boss comprise this small disc. The heads, facing inward, all wear the same hairstyle and solemn expression. They have been hammered out so that they protrude in high relief from the phalera’s flat form. Individuals are not represented here. Instead, the heads appear to be masks or stylized versions of a man’s countenance. The eyes bulge out yet are blank of design. It also appears that the faces have mustaches or very thick lips. Perhaps the possessor of this phalera was involved in the Celtic cult of the head. While the phalera has a centripital focus, its exact center is not marked on the spherical boss that protrudes. The odd number of surrounding heads adds to the phalera’s dynamic intrigue. The phalera may abstractly depict the meeting of Celtic men around a table or in a circular edifice.

Moscati, p. 468

 

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