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Censer with Hexagonal Body at Adana Museum
A bronze censer with a hexagonal body and figural decoration is on display at the
Adana Museum. It was uncovered in the excavations of the church outside the walls
of Dağpazarı in Isauria and brought to the Museum in 1959 by in Mut. Directorate of
The hexagonal body of the cast bronze censer rests on three legs and was suspended
by three chains attached to loops on its rim. Each side of the body is framed with an arch
containing a figure in relief. Beneath the rim is an engraved dedicatory inscription. The
figures in relief are Christ, two angels, two saints and one martyr.
Censers with hexagonal bodies were mostly produced in the capital; there are but few
extant examples. Those examples remaining include three of silver and one of gilded silver.
The example in the Adana Museum distinguishes itself from the others by its bronze
material and technical properties. While other extant examples, with their figures in relief,
were shaped by forging, the Adana example was cast in bronze together with its figures
contained in the mold.
Other examples with hexagonal bodies and figural decorations are as follows: The one
at Bayerisches Museum in Munich features Christ, SS Peter and Paul, The Virgin Mary and
archangels, while the one in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection features Christ and SS Peter
and Paul. The censer in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York collection features
Christ, SS Peter and Paul, The Virgin Mary and archangels, and the one at the British
Museum in London features busts of Christ, The Virgin Mary, SS Peter, Paul, Jacob and
John the Evangelist.
These silver censers are reminiscent of the Adana example with respect to form and
the figural decorations are clearly dated by their stamps. Thus, the London example of
Istanbul provenance is dated to the reign of Phocas (602-610) while the Munich and New
York examples of Istanbul provenance are dated to the reign of Mauricius (582-602). The
Dumbarton example from the Kumluca treasure is dated to the reign of either Justinian
(527-565, or more precisely to 550-565) or Justin II (565-575).
The church where the Adana example was uncovered is dated to the mid-5th century
through the early 6th century, based on the plan layout and floor mosaics.
The three silver censers of the capital with their certain stamped dates and the date
proposed for the Kumluca example, now in Dumbarton Oaks Collection, seem to be examples
made later than the bronze Adana censer with the same characteristics.
Thus, the Adana example seems to be the earliest example of this group with its hexagonal
body and figural decoration.
The Adana example is similar to the Munich and New York examples with respect to
form and figures placed within its arches and dated to the reign of Mauricius (582-602), in
the late 6th century. Therefore, even with the choice of figures within arches and taking
into account its earlier date, the Adana example must be assumed to have a special place
in this group of censers.
The fact that the Adana example dates to the mid-5th or early 6th centuries, and with
its traditional choice of bronze material suggesting it could have been produced at local
workshops, plus the possibility that its form and arched layout were exported from
Isauria to the capital by itinerant or local masters, all lend strong evidence that the Adana
example maintains the earliest position among censers with hexagonal bodies containing
figures of Christ, two angels, two saints and a martyr within arches and/or similar

* Prof. Dr. Ayşe Aydın
Muğla Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü Kötekli - Muğla
E-posta: ayseaydin70@gmail.com

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