Multiple Choices for this week’s What is it? discussion. Start the discussion here and on our Facebook page! Share your thoughts and interpretations, and feel free to use the multiple choices to guide you. Enjoy your archaeological artifact analysis!
A. Roman scabbard chape
B. Mycenaean goblet rest
C. Phoenician fox mask
D. Egyptian torch holder
E. Philistine shoe armor
Answer: a) Roman scabbard chape
This chape—a piece that fits on the bottom tip of a scabbard, or sheath, to secure the tip of a blade—was used by a Roman soldier in the first century A.D. This example was discovered in a tower room at Masada and dates to the time of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66–70 A.D.). Although it belonged to a Roman soldier, it might have been taken as loot by the rebels. Or it might have been left by a Roman soldier encamped there after the rebels were defeated in 73–74 A.D. Measuring roughly 3 by 1 inches, this chape is decorated with a delicate cutout design whose ornamental pattern suggests a floral or vegetal motif; the sides of the chape terminate in palmettes. The incised details were likely gilded. The chape was attached to a leather-covered, wooden sheath by a hole in the upper edge of its front side.
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