What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Collection online

Additional options
Production date to

Or search by



  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Marble patera (shallow bowl): a dancing maenad surrounded by a wreath of ivy leaves and a necklace of pendants.

  • Date

    • 120-140 (probably)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 34.29 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Cook 2011, nr. 122:
    'A circular votive patera sacred to Bacchus – it is about sixteen inches in diameter, very thin, and hollowed like a dish – in the center within a circle is a frantic bacchanalian Nymph, with her head thrown backwards in the exstatic action of Coition – The veil or curtain [inserted: the symbol of night] which she holds in both hands, is flying over her head, denoting the Mysteries of the Animation of the chaos by the supreme generative power, personified as Bacchus, before which event all was darkness – This patera was purchased at Rome 1772’ (GR 1, Relief 7)
    Reported to have been found in Hadrian’s villa.
    No reference to this bowl has been found in Townley’s accounts, and its precise date of purchase and source are therefore unknown. Apart from GR 1 it is mentioned only in the list of drawings (GR 4). Being omitted from the parlour catalogues and from Combe’s supplementary list, it found no place in the original Townley register of 1848. More than thirty years earlier it had been exhibited in room XII, which was mainly given over to the collection of Sir William Hamilton. Its connection with Townley seems to have been forgotten (the connection was, it seems, unknown to Smith), but is confirmed by an engraving in a volume of prints in the British Library captioned: ‘Patera antiqua votiva ex marmore in ruderibus villae Hadriani Tiburtinae effossa, quatuordecim unciis lata, apud Carolum Townley Londini’. The copies of this engraving in the archive (TY 13/10/1-9) were made before the text was added. At some unrecorded date before 1969 its authenticity was questioned and it was consigned to the Greek and Roman departmental forgery cupboard, from which undignified lodging it was rescued by the present author.

    * Townley drawings 2010,5006.506 and 2010,5006.1877.17.

    - MS Cat 1785-86 fo. 5, no. 7: Print captioned ‘Patera antiqua votiva ex marmore in ruderibus villae Hadriani Tiburtinae effossa, quatuordecim unciis lata, apud Carolum Townley Londini’, in: A Collection of Ancient paterae, vases, Bass-reliefs, sarcophagi, etc. belonging to Charles Townley Esqr of Townley in Lancahire (volume of prints in the British Library).
    - Listed in Ms. Inventory of the Hamilton Room (British Museum 1824) and probably for this reason mistakenly assigned by Smith to the collection of Sir William Hamilton.
    - Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (1817), XII, Case 67.
    - A Guide to the Graeco-Roman Sculptures in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities (Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum) (2 vols., London 1874 [2nd ed. 1879] and 1876), II, no. 148.
    - Hermann Winnefeld, Die Villa des Hadrien bei Tivoli (JdI Ergänzungsheft III, Berlin 1895), 167.
    - A. H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, Vol. III (London 1904), 398, no. 2505.
    - B. F. Cook, `The Townley Marbles in Westminster and Bloomsbury', The British Museum Yearbook, 2 (1977), 68 A. 3, fig. 52.


  • Bibliography

    • Sculpture 2505 bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Greek & Roman Antiquities

  • Registration number



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: GAA8642

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help