About this object

Double rectangular ash chest of L. Manlius Philargyrus and Larcia Rufina. Although there are two inscription panels at the front there is only one cavity. The sides of the chest are undecorated but smoothly worked and the interior andf the back are roughly worked. The chest has clamp holes on its sides. The top edge is not shaped to hold a lid. The inscription in the panels is to the left:
D. M,
and to the right::
The translation for the left one is: To the Shades. To Lucius Manlius Philargyrus. Lacia Rufina made it for her well deserving husband and herself. He lived 45 years.
The right one: To the Shades. Larcia Rufina,?, to her well deserving husband.
If Lucia Rufina had intended this ash chest to be for her as already stated in the first inscription, the second inscription does not make sense as there is no need for it. It is also grammatically odd and there is a mistake with the phrase Coniugi Sua which should be coniugi Suo.
The spacing is not very good and the last line of the left hand is squashed into the bottom of the panel and smaller than the rest. In the second inscription the words are split between the lines. The letters are rather clumsy but clearly formed and the vertical strokes of the letters are deeply cut into the surface. It is likely that both the inscriptions are by the same hand but the right hand one is rougher than the other one. It could well be that the ash chest was placed in a tomb at the time when the second inscription was added. It could also be that the second inscription is an 18th century addition.
The front of the ash chest has a fascia and cyma moulding along the top and bottom and similar moulding but narrower is used around the inscription as a frame. The panels are arranged with narrower vertical fields alongside them, one at each end of the centre. They are decorated with incised but stylised ivy tendrils. The stem weaves from side to side and there are heart shaped leaves and patterns of three dots arranged in a triangle to represent the berries.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • 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
    225 mm x 465 mm x 230 mm
  • Note
    Davies (2007) compared the ivy tendril design to the ash chest in Atrani, of C. Stertinius Priscus and commented that this type of decoration was typical of the mid to later 1st century AD. The ash chest was included in the Monumenta Matthaeina but not in the Engravings volume.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, 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

  • 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: 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
Object view = Humanities
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