About this object

Rectangular ash chest of Pholoe, decorated only at the front. The sides only have a portion of the front corner heads roughly blocked. The back of it is roughly worked with a claw chisel. The interior is also roughly worked and has the shape of a bucket. There are no clamp holes on the top edge for holding the lid. The inscription is on a panel with no frame:
To the shades, Rasinia Glypte had this made for Pholoe, a slave born in the household, well deserving. She lived 16 years and 7 days.
The front of the ash chest also has a raised panel with male, clean shaven and horned heads at the upper corners. From their horns a garland, possibly made of leaves, hangs down in the arc below the inscription panel. The bottom corners have birds with their bodies facing outwards and their heads turning towards the garland. Some plain groove patterns are at the area between the garland the inscription. At the top and bottom of the front and extending on the side above the corner heads there are fascia mouldings but not in the usual heads of the Jupiter Ammon but of a type rarely found on ash chests: instead of ram's horns they are the horns of bulls and have been identified by Sinn as the head of Acheloos, the river deity who took the form of a man -headed bull and who is common in Greek and Etruscan rather than Roman art. The overall decoration is broad and there is very little attention to detail, almost left in an unfinished state. The cuffs of the garlands have horizontal grooves and the leaves are also cut by grooves into the garland's surface. The birds are schematic and rather lumpy. The inscription may have been unframed because it was left unfinished. Pholoe died young and probably unxpectantly and as she was a slave her ash chest was not elaborate. The crack at the front of the chest may suggest that it was originally a reject and only put to use later on and therefore the inscription a modern addition.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    150 - 170 AD
  • 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
    250 mm x 290 mm x 275 mm
  • Note
    Glenys Davies commented that the inscription is well placed and the letters are all of the same size and there is nothing strange about the inscription apart from the unusual name of Pholoe. There are no early references of the inscription and this could be an indication that it was added later on. The chest appears in the Engravings. It is dated in the Antonine period because of the Acheloos heads which also appear in an ash chest of D. Albicius Licinius in the British Museum and dated by Sinn to the Antonine period.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, 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

  • 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: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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