An Ancient Golden Platter In Sicily

The extraordinary Phiale Aurea (or gold platter) of Caltavuturo (a village at the foot of the Madonie mountains of Palermo province) was created by an exceptional Greek goldsmith between the late 4th century/early 3rd century BCE. A bowl such as this one pictured was used during religious rites in ancient times for libations and offerings to divinities, probably at a temple or sanctuary. A platter’s details and designs often reflected the architectural details of the temple where it was used. 

At 9-inches in diameter, this particular piece possesses bees (representing the goddess, community, and personal power), acorns (symbolizing prosperity, youthfulness, power, and spiritual growth), beechnuts (illustrating knowledge and meditation that allows us to connect with our ancestors and their ancestral wisdom), and tendrils of grape vines (connoting the faith required to expand with the fruit of the spirit).

Now housed in the archeological museum at the site of the ancient city of Himera in Termini Imerese, for a time the platter, which had been illegally possessed by American collectors through clandestine channels, was in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, until 1999, when it was recovered by Italian authorities and returned to Sicily.

NB throughout the region, one will find magnificent pieces of ancient art on display in off-the-beaten path museums near where the pieces were found by archeologists.

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