About this object

Rectangular ash chest of Q. Milasius Bassus. The chest is decorated on three sides only with architectural details but the back is roughly worked. There are three pilasters at the corners and the field at the front is filled by the framed inscription panel. The incscription states: Q. MILASIYS. M. F.ARN
Q( uintus ) Milasius Bassus M(arci) f(ilius) Arn (ense tribu) /Bassus miles ( coh (ortis) VII pr(aetorianorum) centuriae or centurionis / C (aii) Petili Bassi/vix (it) an (nis) XXXV.
The inscription tells us that the deceased was a soldier of the 7th cohort of praetorians, in the century of (or the centurion) Caius Petilius Bassus and that he lived for 35 years. He was a free citizen at birth and served in a prestigious Praetorian Guard. Although his centurion, is mentioned the years of his service in the army are not included in the inscription. The first I of the Milasius and the I of the miles are elongated and the inscription is generally not very well organised to fit into the space, some of the early parts are squashed and the larger parts spread out. The letters are neither elegant or even in size.
The pilasters at both the front and the back corners have deep capitals and bases decorated with plain mouldings and the shafts are fluted.The wide moulding at the front is in the form of fascia and cyma runs in between the capitals and the bases at the top and the bottom of the front and the sides. The field in between the pilasters and the inscription is blank with only the inscription panel at the front.
The decoration in the architectural format runs from the beginning to the end of the ash chests' history and it is therefore difficult to date this one precisely. The inscription does not give further evidence for the dating. The pilasters resemble the decoration during the Claudian-Neronian time and the type of the lid is also close to this date.
The back area has a shallow cavity with a new slab of stone placed in the bottom of the cavity but it is now covered extensively with plaster. There are small round holes at the top of both sides and the top edge is shaped to fit the lid and has cuttings underneath.
The overall condition of the chest is good with only some chipping, there is a crack across the left side and a hole has been drilled in the centre at the bottom.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy
  • Date made
    1st Century AD mid - 1st Century AD late
  • 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
    295 mm x 405 mm x 310 mm
  • Note
    The C is reversed = CENTURIAE/CENTURIONIS. Davies (2007) trans. Blundell mentioned that this chest was included in Monumenta Matthaeiana but this is not true. Iosephus del Prato in 1789 exported the ash chest. In the Engravings the chest is shown with the same lid and this would have probably been the original lid of the chest, the two fit well together.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Ciriaco Mattei ( Previous owner); Giuseppe Mattei ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Michaelis, A

    Author: Michaelis, A
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Date: 1882

  • Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

    Publisher: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften

  • Enhancing by inscription in the late eighteenth century: the case of Henry Blundell's Ash Chests

    Davies, G

    Author: Davies, G
    Publisher: Institute of Classical Studies
    Date: 2000

  • The Ince Blundell Collection of Classical Sculpture. Volume 2 - The Ash Chests and other Funerary Reliefs

    Davies, Glenys

    Author: Davies, Glenys
    Publisher: Verlag Philipp von Zabern
    Date: 2007


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: 1789
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    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
  • Ciriaco 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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