About this object

Rectangular ash chest with decoration on its three sides only and the back roughly worked. There are large clamp holes in the centre at both sides and the top surface is made to hold a lid. The chest has low feet On the front there is a tabula ansata with a modern inscription:
The inscription cannot be easily interpreted a suggestion would be Ellio Rufo Spuri l (iberto ). Habra fecit/ et sibi et suits/ Sempronia P(ubi) l(iberta)/ Auge. Se(m)pronius/O (?PPI OR aULI) L(IBERTUS)/Urbanus
To Ellius Rufus, freedman of Spurious. Habra made this for herself and her descendants, Sempronia Auge, freedwoman of Publius; Sempronius Urbanus freedman of ?Oppius ( or possibly Aulus ).
Davies commented that it is strange that Ellius Rufus does not have a praeonomen and the letter S is also strange, O may have stood for Oppius (Roman nomen rather than praenomen). There is also no indication of the relationship between all the people named and it may be that the whole inscription is modern.
The decoration of the tabular ansata is in palmette designs with triangular wings and small four petalled rosettes in the spaces flanking them . The same decorative mouldings are along the top and bottom at the front and round the inscription panel: there is twisted or spiral design on the outside with a cyma decorated with a leaf and dart design on the inside. On the sides of the chest are five large six petalled rosettes with plain mouldings above and below.
The decoration is rather crude and worn and the mouldings are not cut accurately, as seen at the corners of the inscription panel. The rosettes are cut so that the large button like centres are below the surface of the flat background, The chest is similar to many in Rome and two others from the Ince Blundell collection. Tiberian early Claudian chests tend to have the distinct and elaborate mouldings and later chests are more constrained in their decoration.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy
  • Date made
    50 AD - 68 AD Late Claudian - Neronian
  • 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 285 mm x 280 mm
  • Note
    Formerly in the Mattei Collection, and was exported by d' Este in 1791 but with a blank inscription panel. Inscription was probably added after it left the Mattei Collection and by its arrival in Blundell's collection. Similar to the ash chest of P. Clodius Stephanus in the Vatican, Museo Gregoriano Profano and dated by Sinn in Claudian-Neronian time.
  • 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

  • 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

  • The Inscriptions on the Ash Chests of the Ince Blundell Hall Collection: Ancient and Modern

    Davies, Glenys

    Author: Davies, Glenys
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Date: 2000


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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