Monday, March 22, 2021

Bronze bull excavated in Greece

BOVINE ICONOGRAPHY: Greek bull figurine unearthed after heavy downpour (BBC News).
A bronze figurine of a bull believed to be at least 2,500 years old has been unearthed in Greece following heavy rain near the ancient site of Olympia. HT Archaeologica News.

Burn marks on the statuette suggest it may have been one of thousands of offerings to the Greek god Zeus.


There are photos at the link. The statuette is a fine specimen.

I post this because when I saw the article I thought, "Hmmm ... bronze bull ... golden calf." It seems there was an iconographic tradition involving little (or even big) metal statues of bulls across the Mediterranean.

Remember the story of Gozo's golden calf in eighteenth-century Malta? The one in which the the supposed discovey of a statuette of a golden calf led to betrayal and butchery? Malta is not very far from Greece. Could a discovery like the recent one at Olympia be behind the story?

I don't recall that a gold or gold-plated bull figurine has ever been found, apart from the one associated with the gold and lead codices seized in Turkey. That one seems fairly modern and to be based on the biblical golden calf story. But we do have a silver-plated one from Ashkelon and now this bronze one.

Could that Gozian farmer have dug up a gold-filigreed one? Or perhaps a bronze or silver one whose value grew in the telling and led to the unfortunate misunderstanding with the Grand Master of Gozo?

Maybe. Who knows? It's fun to speculate. But like its predecessor, this post is for entertainment only.

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