About this object

Large circular ash chest with an inscription panel surrounded by decorative motifs. The rest of the spaces at the front and the sides are decorated with strigilations (S-Shaped fluting). The top edge is not shaped to hold a lid but the two holes surviving at the top may have held pins for this purpose. The interior cavity is smoothly worked. The inscription is:
To the Shades. Diadumenus made this for Antonia Gemella, most dutiful, who lived 33 years.
A strange feature of the inscription is the fact that there is not a noun to go with pientissimae (most common noun used for that would be coniugi or a word desribing the relationship with the dedicator). It is therefore uncertain if Antoniae was the wife, the mistress or the a patron of the dedicator. Diadumenus is given only one name which may suggest that he was a slave to Antonia and she may have been a freedwoman.
The insription is flanked by dophins with their nose down and with water underneath them. A fruit garland is suspended between the dolphins' tails and hangs down beneath the inscription panel with no space for any addtional motifs. Below the garland in the space between it and the moulding at the bottom of the urn are a series of short flutes with rounded ends and the fluting is visible on the back of the chest. Below the dolphins is the strigilitated fluting and it covers the back fo the ash chest. At the bottom of the ash chest there is moulding decorated with a complex leaf design. The strigilated fluting was adopted from fluting in sarcophagi as is the garland and the style of it was common from the 2nd century AD. The drill is used in the garland as drilled holes rather than a continuous channel ( running drill). The details of the fruit were rendered with the chisel. Because fluting is also at the back of the ash chest it is possible that the chest was made some point after sarcophagoi had become the alternative to ash chests, towards the 2nd century AD. Similar ash chests dates from the Hadrianic and generally Antonine period. The ash chest may have been enhanced with 18th century additions and restorationssuch as the inscription and the lids. It exact provenance is unknown and was probably exported from Rome by d'Este, the famous dealer and collector. The ash chest was not included in the Monumenta Mattheiana.
The ash chest is in a poor condition.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    140 AD - 50 (early Antonine)
  • 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
    340 mm x 400 mm x 40 kg
  • Note
    The Roman Inscriptions in Britain recorded the same inscription from a sarcophagi in Wroxeter, (https://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/2325#rib) now thought to have originated from Rome. It could be that the 18th century restoration of the inscription copied the original Roman inscription of this ash chest.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Antonio d'Este ( 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

  • 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

  • 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 Weld

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

    Owned from: 1791
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Antonio d'Este

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1791
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
Have 11 place tagsPage load time: 686 ms