Ancient Art

Scutum (Shield)

mid-3rd century A.D.

Painted wood and rawhide

105.5 × 41 × 30 cm (41 9/16 × 16 1/8 × 11 13/16 in.)
Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos
1933.715
This is the only known surviving example of the semicylindrical shield known as a scutum, used by Roman legionaries and known from literary sources. Found flattened, in thirteen pieces, and missing its umbo (central boss), the shield was reconstructed by the Yale-French excavation team. The painted decoration reflects Roman iconography of victory, including an eagle with a laurel wreath, winged Victories, and a lion.
Geography: 
Excavated in Dura-Europos, Syria
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
Syrian, Dura-Europos
Period: 
Roman
Classification: 
Arms and Armor
Provenance: 

Excavated by the Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos (Tower 19), present-day Syria, 1928–37; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity (Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, 2011), 325, pl. 5, fig. 2.2, 2.5.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 273, ill.

Jennifer Chi and Sebastian Heath, eds., Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews, and Christians at Roman Dura-Europos, exh. cat. (New York: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 2011), 40, 56, no. 5, ill. cover detail , fig. 2–30.

Simon T. James, The Excavations at Dura-Europos,1928 to 1937: Final Report VII, 7 (London: British Museum Press, 2004), xxix 182–83, no. 629, pl. 10, fig. 106, 107.

Simon T. James, Rome and the Sword: How Warriors and Weapons Shaped Roman Histoy (London: Thames and Hudson, 2011), 136, ill.

Clark Hopkins, The Discovery of Dura-Europos, ed. Bernard Goldman (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979), 187, ill.

Michael I. Rostovtzeff, Dura-Europos and Its Art, 1st (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1938), 4, pl. 3:1, ill.

Blair Fowlkes-Childs and Michael Seymour, The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019), 188, no. 133.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.