Wednesday, May 23, 2018


HERE is something very special from the Vindolanda Roman Fort excavations at Hadrian's Wall. 

"We usually show our new finds on a hand, this time we have found a hand!" the archaeologist at the VINDOLANDA TRUST said.

This is a lead weighted bronze right hand, measuring 10 cm long and dates to the Severan period (208- 212 AD). 

The artefact is thought to be a cult object of the god Jupiter Dolichenus. Romans believed that such a "hand of power" would give them protection.

Above is a photo (front and back) of the artefact after the initial clean. We will post more images after it has been through the full conservation process.

One of the most popular Roman talismans is the "Hand of Power" or Mano Panthea. 

The defining quality of the Hand of Power in its many forms is that it invariably is shown standing upright upon its severed wrist and is adorned with various zoomorphic and utensil forms. 

Usually (but not always) it is a right hand making a sign of benediction, the thumb and first two fingers upraised and the last two fingers curled down. 

Often a small pine cone is balanced on the tip of the thumb and a large crowned snake crawls up the back of the hand and arches over the bent ring finger and little fingers. 

Other animals and objects covering the rear of the hand in high relief include a lizard, a worm, a salamander, a frog, a caduceus, a fasces, a turtle, and a group of urns. 

Sometimes a ram's head is in the palm of the hand, along with a sprig of mistletoe, a woman nursing a baby, and a strange table with human legs upon which rest three disks (possibly votive food offerings).

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