Bowl from the Carthage Treasure

Late Roman, 4th - early 5th century AD
Found on the Hill of St Louis, Carthage, Tunisia

Chased and hammered with pastoral scenes in relief

The bowl is decorated with five pastoral scenes, four around the rim and one in the central medallion. The same figures occur in each scene - a shepherd, his dog and one or two of his flock, either sheep or goats. The shepherd rest upon his crook or reclines on rocky ledges. Trees with double leaves (possibly palm trees) and a vine create landscape settings, enhanced by grasses engraved in the background. In one scene a round tower appears.

Each group around the rim is separated from the next by a large male or female mask in profile. Such Bacchic masks combined with pastoral or hunting scenes are a prominent theme on high-quality silver vessels from the third and fourth centuries. Other examples in The British Museum are the large dish from the Caubiac treasure and two bowls from the Mildenhall treasure.

It is assumed that the silver items found in the Carthage treasure all belonged to a single family, the Cresconii, whose name is inscribed on one of the dishes. They were an important family in North Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries when Carthage was second only to Rome in importance.

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More information


J.P.C. Kent and K.S. Painter (eds.), Wealth of the Roman world, AD (London, The British Museum Press, 1977)


Diameter: 16.700 cm
Height: 5.100 cm

Museum number

M&ME AF.3276


Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks


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