Game piece from Sanisera
As may other civilizations, Romans reused animal bones to make objects out of them. Workshops for the production of these objects were located inside the limits of cities, since they did not require either a big space or complex structures. Also, it is believed that these objects were made in small domestic workshops as well.
Many of these workshops have been located in the Roman provinces of Gaul (France), Britannia (Britain), Germania (Germany) and Hispania (Iberian Peninsula). In order to use bones as raw materials, artisans soaked them in water, milk or vinegar, so that it could be easier to cut them. Depending on the object, sometimes bones could be emptied, polished and carved.
Ivory sheet with concentric circles and a cross motif found in Sanisera
In the Roman city of Sanisera (Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain) many worked-bone artefacts have been found, including hair pins, styluses, game pieces and knife handles. Some of them have a decorative pattern consisting in a series of concentric circles, which was a typical decorative motif of the Late Empire and Late Antiquity periods. Apart from these bone artefacts, an ivory sheet was found too, which has the same pattern of concentric circles, all of them surrounding a Christian cross.
Bone-made objects with this type of motifs are commonly found in Late Roman, Byzantine, Visigoth and Merovingian sites.
- Knife handle with concentric circles forming a cross found in Sanisera