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An historic Roman Mosaic of two Pankratic Wrestlers, gifted to Richard F. Gordon, command module Astronaut from Apollo 12 - L. 59.7 cm (23.5 inches)

Lot reference 14203705
An historic Roman Mosaic of two Pankratic Wrestlers, gifted to Richard F. Gordon, command module Astronaut from Apollo 12 - L. 59.7 cm (23.5 inches)

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Roman Imperial Period, ca 1st century AD - Eastern Mediterranean

Object: Mosaic
Culture: Ancient Roman
Historical Period: Ancient Roman
Century/ Timeframe: 1st century AD
Material: Stone
Dimensions (in cm): length 23.5" (59.7 cm) height 22" (56 cm)
Condition: Good Condition, See Photo
Origin: Morocco

This mosaic was personally gifted in 1969 by King Hussan II, King of Morocco to Richard F. Gordon, the command module Astronaut from Apollo 12, the second manned mission to land on the Moon.

It portrays two pankratiast wrestlers; the wrestler to the left is in a control technique, holding and entwining the legs of his opponent who is portrayed in the turtle position. The full scene is represented against a white background and surrounded by a square red then black border. Small tesserae are used to create the opponents who are colored in superb earth tones, with shades of browns, yellows, blacks and reds.

Pankratiast wrestling: The Pankratiast sport is a combination of wrestling, boxing and martial arts. When two pankratiasts begin their contest, they stood with outstretched arms: the first objective being to gain a favorable position and grip, each trying to make the other stand so that the sun might shine in his face, or other inconveniences to prevent his fighting with success. Each of the fighters might commence by boxing or wrestling, should he think he would be more successful in one rather than the other. The using of teeth and butting with the head were considered unfair fighting (kakomachein) and contrary to the law of the games (nomos enagonios). Victory was not decided until one of the parties was knocked out, or lifted up a finger, thereby declaring that he was unable to continue the contest either from pain or fatigue (Philostr. l. c.).

Usually one of the combatants, by some trick or other, made his antagonist fall to the ground, and the wrestling that then commenced was called anaklinopale (more commonly known as Kato Pale, ground wrestling), and continued until one of the parties declared himself conquered or was strangled. Edited excerpt from A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin) at the Perseus Archives.

“Pankratiasts…must employ backward falls which are not safe for the wrestler and grips in which victory must be obtained by falling…They must have skill in various methods of strangling; they also wrestle with an opponent’s ankle and twist his arm, besides hitting and jumping on him, for all these practices belong to the pankration, only biting and gouging prohibited. The Spartans allow even these practices, but the Eleans and the laws of the games exclude them.” Philostratus, On Gymnastics From Olympic Games Study Guide (4)

In Rome the Pankratiast (or Roman Pancratium) is first mentioned in the games which Caligula gave to the people (Dion Cass. LIX.13). After this time it seems to have become extremely popular, and Justinian made it one of the seven solemnities which the consuls had to provide for the amusement of the people.

The Pankratiast was one of the hardest athletic games, or sports, in which all the powers of the fighter were called into action. It consisted of a fierce fight involving boxing and wrestling. "Pankratiasts...must employ backward falls which are not safe for the wrestler and grips in which victory must be obtained by falling...They must have skill in various methods of strangling; they also wrestle with an opponent's ankle and twist his arm, besides hitting and jumping on him, for all these practices belong to the pankration, only biting and gouging prohibited. The Spartans allow even these practices, but the Eleans and the laws of the games exclude them." Philostratus, On Gymnastics

Condition: Professionally cleaned and conserved with small areas of tesserea replaced and identified in the conservation report. This report shall be provided with the mosaic and is available for review upon request.

Dimensions: length 23.5 inches (59.7 centimeters) height 22 inches (56 centimeters)

Provenance: After the Apollo 12 flight, Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad, Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean and Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon, together with their wives were invited to spend the night at The White House by President and Mrs. Nixon. In the evening, after dinner, The President asked the party to visit the leadership of 21 countries around the world, as his direct personal representatives, to relate the story of their moon landing mission. To facilitate this assignment they used Air Force One aircraft with two complete flight crews and a number of State Department coordinators. As representatives of The President of the United States they were treated with much celebration and respect everywhere they went.

In Morocco, King Hussan II presented each astronaut with a fine mosaic panel, Richard Gordon received the piece offered here, titled: "The Wrestlers".

Material: Stone
No export licenses required however this piece may be subject to import tax/duties.
Shipping method: FedEx (including insurance).
The seller hereby guarantees the lot to be authentic, acquired by legal means and due diligence conducted to ensure stated provenance.
Reference: RS106

Based in historic Georgetown, Washington DC, Sands of Time Ancient Art gallery offer a wide range of exceptional antiquities, carefully selected for their historical importance, intrinsic beauty and artistic value. All objects sold by Sands of Time are guaranteed for authenticity and provenance, and are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and related documentation. Our extensive collection includes museum-quality art in stone, bronze, pottery, glass and gold from ancient civilizations ranging from the ancient Near East and Egypt to the Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Byzantine, PreColumbian and Gandharan worlds.

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Feedback score: 100%
Reviews given: 5
Member since: December 23, 2016
  • Please note: some elements on this page have been translated automatically.
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    KTHohn September 7, 2017

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Belgium $ 407.05
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Switzerland $ 407.05
Germany $ 407.05
Denmark $ 407.05
Spain $ 407.05
France $ 407.05
United Kingdom $ 407.05
Ireland $ 407.05
Italy $ 407.05
Luxembourg $ 407.05
Netherlands $ 407.05
Norway $ 407.05
Poland $ 407.05
Portugal $ 407.05
Sweden $ 407.05
United States $ 174.45
Rest of Europe $ 407.05
Rest of the World $ 407.05

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