About this object

Ivory figure of a lamb-bearing shepherd (criophore). He wears a Phrygrian cap, a pleated tunic with a decorated hem, and a pouch slung over his right shoulder. He carries a sheep across his left shoulder, his right hand holding its rear right leg. Behind him is a tree. Two sheep look up at him, one (at left) without horns, sitting on its haunches like a dog, one (at right) with horns, rubbing against the tree. The shepherd's left leg is broken off at the knee, and his right hand and forearm are missing. The sheep on his shoulder lacks its head and forequarters, formerly pegged into the hole top right. On the back there is a hole towards the top of the tree, and in the base four equidistant holes: in one, an ivory peg is still in position, and in another the broken end of a similar peg.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Byzantine (Coptic)
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Alexandria
  • Date made
    200 - 400 AD
  • Materials
    Tooth Ivory
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Purchased from the collections of Norwich Castle Museum, 1956
  • Collector
    William Birkbeck
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Alexandria
  • Date collected
    About 1880
  • Measurements
    101 mm x 50 mm x 25 mm
  • Note
    Acquired c.1880 in the Nile valley by Mr Birkbeck of Thorpe, Norwich, whose widow gave it to the Norwich Museum in 1914. It was sold to the City of Liverpool Museums in 1956, now known as National Museums Liverpool. Henszlmann 658; Pulszky 23; Westwood 13 (’73.12); BFAC22 and cf. 20-1; LI 15;

    Was used on BBC programme 'Animal, Vegetable, Mineral' on 4 March 1959, along with 7 other artefacts. For more information on the programme see the Loan File.
  • Related people
    Susan Birkbeck (Previous owner); William Birkbeck (Collector, previous owner); Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery (Previous owner)

Where is this object from?

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Previous owners

  • Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

    Owned from: 1914
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1956
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Susan Birkbeck

    Owned from: 1897
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1914
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • William Birkbeck

    Owned from: 1870
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1897
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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