Ancient Roman North African Terracotta Relief Plaque with Centauromachy


A fine fragment of an Ancient Roman North African terracotta plaque depicting a battle between centaurs, creatures from Ancient Greek mythology with the head and torso of a man, and the lower body of a horse. The relief, executed in the typical classical style, shows a rearing centaur with his head turned, as he tenses his torso and reaches to the right. The scene conveys the tension and pathos of a combat scene, which is suggested by the presence of parts of a second rearing centaur to the left, including a hoof and lower body. A metal hoop has been attached to the reverse of the piece, which remains unworked.


Date: Circa 3rd-4th Century AD
Provenance: Ex Alison Barker, deceased collection, acquired in 1970.
Condition: Good condition, some erosion to the relief, which, however, still retains a good definition of details.


SKU: MG-169 Category: Tags: , ,

The Centauromachy (Κενταυρομαχíα, kentauromachia) was the mythological battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs during the wedding celebrations of the Lapith king, Pirithous. Different versions of the myth exist; according to one, the Centaurs, insulted from being excluded from the wedding feast, attacked the Lapiths; whilst in another version, the Centaurs took part in the celebrations, though, unused to wine, their wild nature came to the fore and the centaur Eurytion attempted to abduct the bride. In the fight that ensued, Theseus, the mythological Athenian king, came to the Lapiths’ aid, who emerged victorious and drove the Centaurs from their land.

Representing the untamed side of human nature, centaurs are a staple throughout classical art. Depictions of the Centauromachy appear on the metopes of the Parthenon, the temple of Apollo at Bassai and the temple of Zeus at Olympia among the many.

Weight 69 g
Dimensions L 8.8 x W 5.5 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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