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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: Material Culture

Clay-mould for a terracotta relief: Roman Period

This clay-mould with its left half broken away was used for moulding a figure in relief in terracotta like the cast shown. An animal (a lion, judged from its tail with tufted knot on the end) seems to jump uphill or raise up its front part on its two back legs. Perhaps it is held up by another animal or person whose figure is broken away. The scene could have portrayed Heracles grappling with the Nemean Lion, as shown in second century AD terracottas. This type with Heracles holding the lion is very common. The outer shape of the relief seems to be appropriate for the making of a miniature antefix, which might have decorated the gable of a shrine or tomb. A vestige of a large-scale industry of production in material goods at Oxyrhynchus, the clay-mould probably derives from the potters’ quarter of the city.

Private collection, Cologne