early Byzantium, Constantinople or Syria, Byzantine period, 6th-7th Century
silver, Diameter: h. 32.2 cm (12 5/8 in.). Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1950.381
These four liturgical silver vessels--a paten and three chalices (1950.378-381)--form what is now called the Beth Misona Treasure, named for the village in northern Syria for which the objects were made. While nothing is known about the exact location and circumstances of the treasure's discovery, the people of the village of Beth Misona were, like other Christian communities in Syria and Palestine, probably forced to bury their church silver to hide it from the Persians or Arabs, who conquered their lands in the first half of the 7th century.
The paten, which held pieces of Eucharistic bread used during Mass, is decorated with an engraved Latin cross surrounded by a dedicatory inscription that names the paten's donor--Domnos--and its original location--the church of Saint Sergios in Beth Misona. The chalices, which contained the Eucharistic wine used during Mass, feature broad cups decorated with portrait busts of Saints Peter and Paul, Christ, and the Virgin. One chalice bears a dedicatory inscription naming its donor--Kyriakos, Domnos's son--and the priest of the church that received the pious gift--Zeno.
Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery: "Silver from Early Byzantium" 1986, cat. no. 60, p. 230.
Bavarian Nationalmuseum, Munich (5/10/2007 - 9/16/2007), the J. Paul Getty Musuem, Los Angeles (10/30/2007 - 1/20/2008) and Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN (2/13/2009 - 6/7/2009): "Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art"
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