Silver Cochleare of a Long Necked Bird

Object Name
4th century
Credit Line
The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario
Object Number
AGO, Gallery 107 Thomson European, Centre Case, Shelf 2


Height: 13.5 cm (5 5/16 in.)


Silver cochleare in the form of a long legged, long necked bird with a thin curved beak stretched almost into on single continuous line. Two short wings sharply protrude from the small rounded body.
A pair of similar birds from the Hoxne hoard, now in the British Museum, are described as ibises. Although very similar in size and style the necks are more curved and the eyes are inlaid in niello. The museum refers to them as toilette items, the beak used as a toothpick whilst the other end, which is more like a short rounded spatula, they suppose may have been used to clean ears. An alternative suggestion is that the type was used at the table perhaps to remove snails, whelks or winkles from their shells.


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