Lead Wreath

Object: 1550
JIAAW, Old Department Collection

This lead wreath was found in the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia in Sparta, Greece. The sanctuary was established in the 9th century BCE and was an important site for centuries – being rebuilt, expanded, and incorporated into new structures up until the 3rd century CE. The sanctuary was devoted to Artemis Orthia, likely a merging of the widely known Greek goddess Artemis and the local Spartan goddess Orthia, both of whom were known as goddesses of hunting and wilderness.

Excavations at the sanctuary have revealed that tiny lead figurines and miniature ceramic vessels were commonly left as offerings, and often in large numbers. More than 100,000 lead figurines depicting people, animals, and wreaths have been excavated from the site and they seem to have peaked in popularity around the second half of the 5th century BCE. Other offerings found in the sanctuary include terracotta figurines, brooches, pins, buttons, and trinkets made of bronze, ivory, gold, and silver.

-Jess Porter, JIAAW Operations and Events Coordinator

Learn more about the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia and see other examples of lead votives:

Who was Artemis-Orthia?

When most people think of ancient Greece, the Classical city of Athens usually springs to mind. Yet, Sparta in the Peloponnese, is known as the military state and is the total antithesis of the city of Athens.

VOTIVE OFFERINGS FROM THE SANCTUARY OF ARTEMIS ORTHIA, SPARTA, IN LIVERPOOL COLLECTIONS

https://www.jstor.com/stable/44082091 Two museums in the city of Liverpool have material from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, Sparta: the Garstang Museum of Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, and World Museum, part of National Museums Liverpool.

Lead wreath of lotus buds | Greek, Laconian | Archaic | The Met

Small flat votive figurines of cast lead have been found in great quantities at the ancient sanctuaries of Laconia; over one hundred thousand, dating from the seventh century B.C. to the Classical period, were dedicated to the goddess Artemis Orthia in Sparta.

Lead wreath | Greek, Laconian | Archaic | The Met

Small flat votive figurines of cast lead have been found in great quantities at the ancient sanctuaries of Laconia; over one hundred thousand, dating from the seventh century B.C. to the Classical period, were dedicated to the goddess Artemis Orthia in Sparta.

Lead figure of a winged goddess, possibly Artemis Orthia | Greek, Laconian | Archaic | The Met

Small flat votive figurines of cast lead have been found in great quantities at the ancient sanctuaries of Laconia; over one hundred thousand, dating from the seventh century B.C. to the Classical period, were dedicated to the goddess Artemis Orthia in Sparta.