Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Ship-shaped iron fire-dogs

Cat. No.





Kavousi, Pla‹ Tou Kastrou, Crete (from a tholos tomb)




A pair of iron fire-dogs in four fragments, each resting on two stands riveted at right angles to the ship's body. The fragments of four strands confirms that these were a pair

Accession Number

Heraklion Museum


Boardman 1971: 6-8, no. 12

Only the bow of the ship from one of the fire-dogs survives. It has a ram and the distinctive S-shaped horn. The forecastle is not demarcated as distinctly as on the Argos examples.

The fire-dogs come from a large collection of objects that were acquired from one or more tholos tombs at Kavousi in 1885 and later stored at the Heraklion Museum. The metal objects are known thanks to photographs from the Ashmolean Museum that were made at the bequest of Evans. The metal finds were originally accompanied by a considerable amount of pottery.1 The metalwork from the Oxford photographs includes pieces of LM III date. The Iron age pottery and metalwork is mainly of LG date and includes the shield boss. The fire-dogs probably belong to the burial of a warrior. There are other contemporary burials from Kavousi which contained weapons and armour.

1. Some of the pottery is illustrated in Levi 1927-29: figs. 624-627, 630-638, 640, 643.

Boardman, J. 1971. “Ship firedogs and other metalwork from Kavousi,” KretCron 23: 5-8.

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