Paramythia Hoard

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The Paramythia Hoard or Paramythia Treasure is the name of a Greco-Roman hoard of bronze figurines and other objects found in Paramythia, north-west Greece in the late 18th century. Of the original nineteen objects found in the hoard, fourteen are now in the British Museum


In the 1790s, nineteen bronze sculptures were discovered by Albanian farmworkers near the village of Paramythia, Epirus, Greece. Soon after their discovery, the hoard was dispatched to St Petersburg, to become part of Catherine the Great's collection. After her death, the original hoard was dispersed to various European collections. Eventually fourteen of the statuettes reached the British Museum from two sources. Twelve statuettes were bequeathed by the museum trustee and philanthropist Richard Payne Knight, while two more were donated by the widow of the antiquary John Hawkins in 1904. The whereabouts of the remainder of the hoard is unknown.

Original purpose and description

The statuettes probably formed part of a public or domestic shrine or altar for local worship, known as a lararium. The figures were all made through the lost wax technique and are for the most part miniature versions of ancient Greek and Roman deities, reflecting the contemporary taste for classical and hellenistic art. They include a bust of Aphrodite, a figure of Odysseus riding a ram, Castor the horse tamer, the gods Mercury (two versions, one of which is a mask), Apollo, Jupiter, Venus (two versions), Serapis and Jupiter or Neptune, a Lar, a disk in the shape of the sun-god Helios and part of a bronze mirror case. Based on the quality of their manufacture and style, the statuettes from the hoard are estimated to date from the second half of the 2nd century AD, although some of the objects from the hoard may have been made earlier. Unfortunately most of the figures have lost their gold and silver gilding and accessories.
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