About this object

Rectangular ash chest of Q. Curiatius Zosimus, a Greek name and possibly a freedman although the inscription does not mention it. The inscription
d (IS) M (anibus ) S(acrum) Q (uinti) Curiati/Zosimi: sacred to the shades of Quintus Curiatius Zosimus.
The inscription is on a panel at the front and well placed, the letters on the first line are well spaced but the two lines underneath them are not centered and are too close to the left hand side border. The lettering is a bit crude and the size of the letters uneven and almost like in a cursive script than on stone carved inscriptions. Despite these faults the inscription is not deemed to be a modern addition; it was well attested in several 18th century records of inscriptions. The chest was not illlustrated in the Monumenta Matthaeiana but the description of it and the inscription were mentioned in the text. The lid described there was decorated with dolphins, gorgons, and a wreath held up by Nereids. A similar lid was described in the Engravings (fig.11) and in Henry Blundell's Account but is not currently within the rest of Blundell's collections in our museum.
The decoration of the chest is on three sides and the back is only roughly worked. The upper edge is not shaped to hold the lid and the clamp holes near the top edge on both sides, three widely spaced along the left side, two on the rights. The holes are irregular in shape but approximately rectangular with traces of lead in them.

The decoration is of pilasters on all four corners. There are high bases with a complex profile and fluted shafts and capitals decorated with three rosettes on each visible face. The moulding is running all the way around the top of the chest on the three decorated sides and is of a twisted cord which runs above the capitals of the pilasters and below their bases . In between the capitals and the bases on both the front and the sides there is a leaf and a dart moulding. The leaf design is also on the frame of the inscription panel. The inscription is large and sits above a double door with two leaves of two panels each. The panels have plain mouldings and each contains a ring. The central post is not well defined. On either side of the door there is a tree, thin and long, possibly a cypress but carved with laurel leaves and berries. On the left hand side there is a jug with exaggered handle and relief decoration (perhaps an offering bowl) on the right hand side there is some restoration. The door motif appeared early in the Roman repertoire and remained popular for a long time. In early pieces the door was only one of several architectural motifs and the effect was to make the ash chest look like a building in miniature.Drilling was used in the leaf mouldings and the rosettes, the door and panels are very linear
Henry Blundell failed to recognise the door on the chest and described it as a chest of drawers. The chest was acquired from the Mattei collection.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    1st Century AD mid
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    325 mm x 405 mm x 325 mm
  • Note
    Davies (2007) observed that the effect of a miniature architecture in this ash chest is not as striking as in examples such as the ash chest of P. Volumnius Violens from the tomb of Volumnii at Perugia ( Augustan time). The pillasters do give it an architectural effect but there is no imitation stonework on the sides or on the background of the front. The jug and patera on the sides are associated with sacrifices and altars. Davies also commented that although the tree were identified as cypress tree and the door as a symbol of the entrance to Hades, this symbolism is not that certain and the door may had been used to suggest that the ash chest is a miniature of a tomb or the door as suggesting the separation between the living and the dead. Davies (2007) compared it to the ash chest of Celadus in the Capitoline Museums, dedicated to an imperial slave, probably of Caligula. An earlier chest in Siena has a similar decorative scheme and mouldings (Sinn, Marmorunen, pp 100-101m no 37, pl. 14). The ash chest of Curiatius Zosimus was dated by Sinn to the reign of Claudius.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Ciriaco Mattei ( Previous owner); Giuseppe Mattei ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

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Previous owners

  • Joseph William Col Sir Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Ciriaco Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1614
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Giuseppe Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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