Ash Chest



Rectangular ash chest with an inscription in a tabular ansata on the front: D.M AVRELIA HERMIO NE FECITAVRELIO IN GENVO CONIVGI KARISSIMOITEMAV RELIVSPHILANDER LIBERTVS PATRO NO MERENTI To the Shades. Aurelia Hermio made this for Aurelius Ingenuus, her very dear husband. Also Aurelius Philander, his freedman, for his deserving patron. There are no gaps or interpuncts between the words and the there is little regard for the text in the spacing with the words broken up across lines to a great extent that usually. The letters are scratched rather than carved on the surface. Other odd features include that none of the men mentioned are given a praenomen and the name Philander is very unusual. There is no bene following merenti. All these features raise suspictions as to how ancient the inscription is although it is included in early publications such as the Monumenta Matthaeiana. The decoration of plain moulding is very simple and it is therefore very difficult to date the ash chest. The unusual features of the inscription may also be an indication of a late Roman date. Davies noted that tabula ansata were not popular as inscription panels for ash chests but sporadically used at different periods. For early Roman chests the tabula ansata is part of the decoration and it is surrounded by other motifs. 2nd century AD urns can have tabular ansatae. The family name Aurelius would suit a late 2nd century AD date if the three freedmen mentioned here were descended from imperial freedmen. The chest is made of serevaral pieces, the front and part of the sides from one piece and back and the sides from another piece. On the right side two additional pieces may be restorations. At the bottom of the chest there is an area where the front and back sessions do not join well together.