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Lead tank

  • Detail of inscription around tank

    Detail of inscription around tank

 

Diameter: 81.000 cm

Gift of Major T.C. Lucas

P&EE 1946 2-4 1

Room 49: Roman Britain

    Lead tank

    Roman Britain, 4th century AD
    From Icklingham, Suffolk

    This lead tank is one of three found at Icklingham, where an early church and cemetery have been excavated. On the side of the tank in two places is the common Christian device of a Chi-Rho symbol, the first two letters of Christ's name in Greek. This is flanked by an alpha and omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, another symbol of Christ - 'I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last' (Revelation 1:8).

    There is no conclusive evidence that the lead tanks were used as fonts, but they were presumably intended to hold water.

    Although the chi-rho is correctly marked, the positions of the alpha and omega have been reversed. While this may have had religious significance, it is just as likely to have been the result of a mistake in the casting process by someone unaccustomed to the Greek alphabet.

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    On display: Room 49: Roman Britain

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    History of an erotic Roman drinking cup, £5.00

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