Objects from a tomb at Trebbia

Greek, about 440-420 BC
From near Capua, Campania, Italy

The contents of a tomb opened by Sir William Hamilton in 1766

During his long residence in southern Italy (1764-1800), the connoisseur Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803) was interested not only in painted vases and fashionable collectables, but also in their archaeological contexts. In 1766, he was present at the opening of tombs in the mountains of Campania ten miles north-east of the ancient city of Capua. His purpose was to understand their method of construction and to see whether Greek vases were to be found in tombs in such a remote region of Italy.

Giuseppe Bracci made a sketch of one of the tombs, an engraving of which appeared in d'Hancarville's Antiqités Etrusques, Grecques et Romaines (1767-76), a description of Hamilton's first vase collection. This shows a skeleton surrounded by vases and other objects, some standing on the floor of the tomb, others leaning or hanging from the walls. Many of these objects came to the British Museum with the purchase of Hamilton's collection in 1772 and some can now be identified. Most important is an Athenian red-figure vase dating to about 440-420 BC. It provides dating evidence for the other objects, which include domestic utensils - jugs, a food grater, wine ladle and strigil (body-scraper) - and two iron swords.

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More information


I. Jenkins and K. Sloan, Vases and Volcanoes: Sir Willi (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

P.F.H. D'Hancarville, Antiquités Etrusques, Grecqu-1, 4 vols. (Naples, 1767-76)


Height: 35.800 cm (largest vase)

Museum number

GR 1772.3-20.1* (Vases E495);GR 1772.3-20.463;GR 1918.1-1.52;GR 1975.11-9.3;GR 1772.3-4.6(1);GR 1975.6-2.1 and 3;GR 1772.3-4.5(4);GR 1918.1-1.12;GR 1975.8-4.20


Hamilton Collection


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