A Bronze Parthian-Roman Shovel with a Dolphin Handle
The dolphin motif was popular with the Roman army, its image often adorning the uniforms, tools, and weapons of conscripts and generals alike. As such, the dolphin that makes up the handle of this shovel belies its role on the march, possibly used to prepare the afternoon’s encampment.
This piece hails from the edge of Rome’s border with Parthia, a region of northeastern Iran whose kingdom abutted the edge of Rome’s, causing much overlap both politically and culturally. The bronze of this shovel has aged to a rich emerald green, yet the sharp angles of the shovel’s blade remain in superb condition. The dolphin itself still bears its distinct curved head and nose, while the fins are all finely detailed, including the ridges of its broad tail. This piece dates from approximately 100 BC – 100 Ad