Ash Chest



Vase-shaped urn and lid of Hylas. The vase was probably from the 18th century AD; the inscription was copied from an ash chest now in Sicily. Blundell recorded in the 'Account' that the urn contained 'two tear-bottles, a lamp, and some bones, as when it was first discovered.' These are no longer kept with the vase and are not extant in the Ince Blundell collection. It is likely that the contents were added in Cavaceppi's workshop in an attempt to imply the urn was a find from recent excavations. The bowl of the vase is oval or egg shaped and has a narrow foot with a very low base. On either side of the bowl there are ram's heads as handles. The lid is conical with a knob on top. The front of the vase is marked with an inscription in the form of a tabula ansata. The inscription is: HYLIA VIX.A.1.M.III HCLAVDIVS EPAPHRA FILIO.FEC Hyla vix(it) a(nno) I, m(ensibus) III/H.Claudius Epaphra/filio fec(it). To Hylas who lived one year and three months. H( Tiberius( Claudius Epaphra set this up for his son. The inscription is identical to the one from Sicily that it is copied from, the only difference being the father praenomen is recorded as Tiberius (TI), while the use of 1 rather than 1 for the child's age betrays the mistake of the copyist. The letters are well formed but not even and the lines are not straight. At the top of the vase the rams's heads are arranged in high relief. The main part of the bowl is covered in diagonal flutes sligthly curved but not sufficiently to be classed as strigilations. The tabula ansata inscription panel cuts into the fluting on the front and has a moulded frame. The lowest part of the bowl of the vase is cut off from the rest by a plain fascia moulding and is decorated with stylised radiating leaves. The foot also has diagonal flutting and the base is undecorated. The upper surface of the lid is also fluted with more pronounced curves than the body. The curves radiate from a calyx of four leaves on top of which stands a knob which is the only worn part of the vase and may have been an antique fragment. It was decorated with four leaves enclosing a bunch of flowers or berries. The lower edge of the lid has a bead moulding. The vase itself may be ancient but the inscription in itself in an 18th century restoration. The good condition of the urn and the form suggest also an 18th century work