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Head of a Dog
Head of a Dog

Photo credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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This object is supposedly a Roman ornament that once decorated the head-rest or foot-board of a 'lectus' – a low couch or day bed, which may have been used for reclining on during banquets by elite hosts and their guests. Dogs were valued animals in ancient Rome; they were thought to offer protection from ghosts and evil spirits, were sometimes offered as sacrifices to their gods, and often given their own tombs and epitaphs when they died. They were also regularly depicted in Roman myths and legends in practical roles.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts



Head of a Dog


1st C BC–1st C AD




H 11.5 x W 12.5 x D 7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased at Sotheby's, 1951

Work type



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The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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