Rival to Portland Vase at Bonham’s?

The incipit of an item in the Antiques Trade Gazette:

SPECIALISTS at Bonhams have just announced that they have identified a magnificent Roman cameo glass vase, which may be the most important of its kind in the world.

Strikingly similar to the Portland Vase, one of the British Museum’s greatest treasures, it is larger, in better condition and with superior decoration, say Bonhams.

Chantelle Rountree, head of antiquities at Bonhams, said: “It is of major international importance. Academically and artistically it is priceless. Scholars will be evaluating this find for decades.”

The vase dates from between late First Century B.C. to early First Century A.D and stands 13in (33.5cm) high. Only 15 other Roman cameo glass vases and plaques are known to exist today.

These very rare vessels were highly artistic, luxury items, produced by the Roman Empire’s most skilled craftsmen. They are formed from two layers of glass – cobalt blue with a layer of white on top – which is cut down after cooling to create the cameo-style decoration.

Items of this kind were produced, it is thought, within a period of only two generations. They would have been owned by distinguished Roman families.

Until now, the most famous example has been the Portland Vase, held by the British Museum. This is smaller, standing at only 9in (24cm) high. It is also missing its base and has been restored three times.

The recently identified vase is also more complex than others of its kind, being decorated with around 30 figures and a battle scene around the lower register. By comparison, the Portland vase has just seven figures.

Bonhams’ experts believe that this magnificent artefact could rewrite the history books on cameo vases. Unlike the Portland Vase, it still has its base and lower register and will therefore add significantly to the archaeological understanding of these vessels.

The vase is thought to have resided in a private European collection for some time. The collector is a long-term client of Bonhams.

I can’t find a photo at Bonham’s or any more details (yet) but the description gives the impression that this is a hitherto unknown piece. Is it?

From Antiques Trade Gazette
From Antiques Trade Gazette

CFP: Windsor Classics Undergraduate Conference


The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Humanities Research Group of the University of Windsor is pleased to sponsor its fifth annual Classics Undergraduate Conference to be held on Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6, 2010. The conference will open on Friday with a keynote speech by Dr. Mark Munn from the Pennsylvania State University.

Undergraduate majors in Classical Civilization or related fields are invited to submit abstracts (of 300 words maximum) for a 15 to 20 minute talk on any aspect of ancient Greece or Rome. Please include name, year, and student number as well as a phone number or e-mail address with your submission, which is to be made to Dr. Max Nelson (who can be contacted by e-mail at mnelson AT uwindsor.ca). The deadline for the submission of abstracts is January 31, 2010. Notification of acceptance will be provided by February 15, 2010.

CONF: Oxford Ancient History Seminar Series

seen on the Classicists list:

The programme for this term’s ancient history seminar series at Oxford is as follows:

Centre and Region in the Hellenistic Mediterranean

13 Oct.

Dr Jonathan Prag (Oxford)

Epigraphic habits in the hellenistic western Mediterranean

20 Oct.

Dr Alex Mullen (Cambridge)

‘La Provence grecque’. Regional identities and language in Southern Gaul

27 Oct.

Dr Al Moreno (Oxford)

Hieron and Pontic-Aegean Networks

3 Nov.


10 Nov.

Dr Rebecca Sweetman (St Andrews)

Crete: Hellenistic seclusion to Roman network hub

17 Nov.

Prof. Vincent Gabrielsen (Copenhagen)

Economic dynamism and Aegean aristocracies: Hellenistic Rhodes and its network

24 Nov.

Dr Alicia Jiménez (Madrid)

Roman coins in a provincial context. The Republican army and the camps at Numantia (Soria, Spain)

1 Dec.

Dr Lorenzo Campagna (Messina):

Exploring social and cultural changes in the communities of provincia Sicilia. New perspectives from the study of urban landscapes

All seminars take place at 5pm in the ground floor Lecture Theatre of the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles, Oxford OX1 3LU

Google map here: http://tinyurl.com/IoannouCentre

All welcome.

Please direct any queries to the organisers:

Alfonso.moreno AT magd.ox.ac.uk

Jonathan.prag AT merton.ox.ac.uk

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem iii idus octobres

ante diem iii idus octobres

  • Fontinalia — a festival in honour of the divinity Fons, who presided over springs and wells; such sources of water were festooned with garlands for the occasion
  • 54 A.D. — death of the emperor Claudius, purportedly succumbing to a plate of poisoned mushrooms dished up by his niece/wife Agrippina; dies imperii of Nero (son of Agrippina)