Diameter: 12.400 cm
Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks
M&ME AF 3280
Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100
Silver bowl from the Carthage Treasure
Late Roman, 4th - early 5th century
Found on the Hill of St Louis, Carthage, Tunisia
This simple, elegant vessel has a hemispherical bowl on a high tapering foot. The shape of the foot is echoed by the open knop of the lid. The exterior of the bowl, foot and lid are subtly faceted. A group of five similar vessels were found at the end of the nineteenth century in Kostolac (ancient Viminacium) in Serbia. A plate with a rim decorated with hunting scenes and masks, similar to the bowls in the Carthage treasure, was found with them. The similarity between the Kostolac silver, which was probably made in local workshops on the Danube, and the Carthage silver illustrates the homogeneity of silver production in the Late Antique world.
Silver plate played an important role in the domestic, political and economic life of the Roman Empire. Wealthy families like the Cresconii who owned the Carthage Treasure owned large quantities of silver. A complete set of domestic plate comprised argentum escarium ('eating silver') and argentum potorium ('drinking silver'). This vessel is very similar in form to the chalices which developed in the Early Byzantine period.
J.P.C. Kent and K.S. Painter (eds.), Wealth of the Roman world, AD (London, The British Museum Press, 1977)