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Greek Leaded Bronze Weight w/ Herm Figure

Greece, probably Hellenistic Period, ca. late 4th to 1st century BCE. A rare, heavy leaded bronze weight, roughly square, undecorated on one side and with a relief herm-like figure on its front. The figure has a column-like body, simple head and arms, and clear phallus. Etched into one side next to the figure are the letters "MNA", an abbreviation for a MINA, a unit weighing approximately 430 to 450 grams. A small, round hole is drilled through one upper corner, as if the weight was kept hanging on a hook or suspended on a string. Size: 2.2" W x 2.4" H (5.6 cm x 6.1 cm)

Herm or herma are items with a head, sometimes a torso, and male genitals carved at the appropriate height. They are thought to derive from the ancient Greek practice of worshipping divinities that were in the form of cairns or columns of stone or wood. These later evolved into adding a head and phallus to the column. Many herma depict Hermes himself, but others in the form of both gods and real figures like Socrates and Plato are known. They were apotropaic and kept in many places - at crossroads, in temples, in public places, and in homes.

Condition: Surface wear commensurate with age including some scratching. Grey-teal patina with light deposits, especially on the back.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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