Ash Chest



Ash chest with an inscription to Q. Laelius Primigenius (recorded by Michaelis as 'Laflius'). The only decoration of the chest is on the front with the inscription inside a frame. The top edge is not shaped to hold the lid The inscription is Q.LAFLIVS PRIMIGENIUS VIX.ANNIS XX Quintus Laflius Primigenus lived 20 years. Daves noted that Laflius is an unusual name and may have been a mistake by the stonecutter for the common name Laelius. The letters are elegant and well placed in the panel and similar to the ones seen in the inscription of Lappia. Although the inscription may have been considered to be modern it was well attested in 18th century records of inscriptions. It could also be that the Ince inscription was adapted from a different inscription, perhaps the one recorded by Fabretti in 1699 as located in the Mattei gardens and recording the deseased's cognomen as Primus instead of Primigenius. The frame around the inscription has the usual undecorated mouldings (cyma and fascia) but they are surrounded by abstract patterns created with incised grooves. Across the top there are chevrons pointing into and meeting at the centre, the ones to the right suggest a decorative garland or leaf motif and those to the left are more abstract. To the right and left of the panel there are a series of lines curving away on either side of a central chevron while along the bottom there is pattern of wavy lines running parallel to each other. This decoration is unusual for ash chests. The ash chest originated from the Mattei collection and was exported by Lisandroni and d'Este in 1789. It is in the Monumenta Matthaeiana but with a different inscription, the one to Claudus Onesimus which today is in ash chest no 13. The inscription it currently has is represented on a different chest which currently has the inscription to M.Rufrius Phlapfiphus. There are also different lids presented with the ash chest in both the Monumenta Matthaeiana and the Engravings. Parts or all of the chest are modern (Davies 2007: 101). Most of the front is from one slab with some patches at the bottom and the lower left corner. The base of the chest is another slab and has a break at the right end. The small pieces that are missing between the front and base of the chest are filled with mastic. The right side is also another slab and broken diagonially across the right hand side corner. The tools used for working the front surfaces are visible. The back is a single slab which is smoothly finished and polished and is in a good condition. The ends of the pins which join the back to the sides are visible. The left side has also been sandwiched between the ends of the front and back panels and stands at the top of the base. This slap also has a break and its two pieces are held together by a large iron clamp. The base is smooth on the outside but roughly worked on the inside. All the panels which form the walls of the chest are roughly worked on the inside except from the left panel which is the opposite (roughly worked on the outside, smooth on the inside. It is not clear whether the slabs have been put together in an attempt to reconstruct the piece or a modern fabrication using ancient fragments. It is also possible but not very likely that the ash chest was made in this way at Roman times.