Ash Chest



Rectangular ash chest decorated on all sides and with four low feet. The interior cavity is hollowed out and worked quite smoothly. The cutting for the lid is unsual, there is a raised strip along the outer edge of the top of the sides and back but not all along the top edge of the front. It looks like the lid was meant to slide into the place from the front. Clamp holes are at the top in the centre of all the four sides and are deep and rectangular in shape. The decoration is in the form of various frames on all four sides. The inscription panel at the front is raised from the surface of the chest and placed inside a frame made up of a cyma and plain fascia moulding. The inscription is DM ET CINERIBUS Q.C P.F. The letters are elegant and well formed but the space arrangement is not that good. The Q has a long tail. In addition the form of the inscription is strange and does not make much sense 'D.M et cineribus means to the Shades and to the Ashes. It is difficult to interpret what the QCPF stand for. Similar features such as the Q.C.P.F but TPAG apppear in an inscription in the Monumenta Matthaeiana and both inscriptions may have been created at the same time. The Mattei collection also has a third similar inscription from a funerary altar commemorating Quintus Mutius. Similarities between this inscription and 59.148.344 include the long slanting of the letter Q. The Quintus Mutius inscription is a modern addition to the uniscribed altar and it was probably created in 1600 when a member of the Mattei family was called Muzio. The letters QCPF and TPAG in both inscriptions may have had some significance for the Mattei family. On the back of the chest there is a rectangular plain field outlined with a deep wide groove and a plain fascia round the outside. On the sides the decoration is similar to the back but the panel contains a large tabula ansata in low relief. This covers the panel but is undecorated and uniscribed. The irregularity of the designs may suggest that the decoration of the chest is unfinished. The inscription is a later addition to the ash chest which may be ancient and perhaps of an early date. Particular features that suggest an early date are the elegance of the proportions and the simplicity of the decoration. It could be that whoever purchased the ash chest in ancient times chose a simple design and it was not thathecould not afford an elaborate and much more expensive one.. The low feet are also a feature of an early date as well as is the tendency to decorate all four sides and to frame each face with a moulding. Early illustrations show this chest with a plain lid with an undecorated pediment which has not been identified in the Ince Blundell collection.