Liturgical incense burner

Date: Second half of the seventh century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Spain
Medium: Bronze
Dimensions: 21.5 cm in height and diameter of 10.5 cm
Description: This cast-bronze incense burner was excavated along with other liturgical objects at the archaeological site of El Bovalar (Catalonia, Spain), which was abandoned in the eighth century. The objects were discovered within the remains of a basilica that was destroyed during the final years of Visigothic rule in the Iberian Peninsula. Coins from the same site date to the rule of Achila (or Akhila) II, a Visigothic king who reigned briefly from 710 or 711 until his death around 714.

A dove sits atop a pinecone at the peak of the hinged hemispherical lid of the incense burner. Below it, three circular openings with chi-rho monograms would have allowed smoke to escape. Three chains attach to the cylindrical bowl of the censer, which itself stands on three feline feet. Although it was found in northeastern Spain, it likely arrived from North Africa or the Eastern Mediterranean, where there were existing traditions of producing three-footed openwork incense burners.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 4
Image Credits: Ángel M. Felicísimo

« Back