Byzantinisches Knochenplättchen mit Herakles - Herakles im Frauenkloster

Archäologische Staatssammlung München


During excavations in 1984 in the enclosure of the Benedictine convent on the Fraueninsel at Chiemsee, a small decorated bone plate relief was found: A handsome, bearded, naked man sits on a basket and supports his head thoughtfully with his left hand. The lion's skin spread over it makes it clear, in accordance with ancient pictorial tradition, that this is a representation of the ancient hero Heracles. A statue of Heracles in a similar posture stood in the hippodrome at Constantinople since 325 and was not melted down until the beginning of the thirteenth century. During the High Middle Ages, the twelve heroic deeds of Heracles - probably depicted in this particular relief after cleaning out the stables of Augeas - were often carved into flat bone plates in Constantinople, where they served as covering for wooden boxes. Such boxes also reached the areas north of the Alps and were well preserved in a number of church treasures, where they were used as reliquaries. Perhaps such a box came to Frauenchiemsee by the agency of the Salzburg Archbishop Gerhard, whose territory included the convent and who had been to Constantinople in 1074. Alternatively, a noble lady may have brought her precious Byzantine jewellery box with her, when she entered the convent. In accordance with mediaeval custom, she would not have had to give up her precious jewellery while inside the convent.


Archäologische Staatssammlung München

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