- Nebamun Wall paintings
- Ritual in Gupta India
- Italian Renaissance Ceramics
- Good Impressions
- Pewter hoards
- Drawings by Rembrandt
- British printed images to 1700
- Etruscan by definition
- Gold, textiles, trade, history
- Kanga and printed textiles
- Jewellery in the Victorian age
- Technologies of Enchantment
- Optical Coherence Tomography
- The South Arabia collection
- Iron Age mirrors
- The Roman shipwreck project
- Coins from Butrint
- Gold glass in late antiquity
- Chairman Mao badges
- Collections of Sir Aurel Stein
- Dunhuang textiles in the UK
- Featured project: Inca ushnus
- A Hundred Years of Dunhuang
- Japanese coin catalogue
- Cylinder seals IV
- Excavations at Grimes Graves
- Ming dynasty paper money
- Reading Ancient Egyptian poems
Pewter hoards from Roman Britain
Poor man’s silver? Pewter tableware: its function, significance and contribution to our understanding of life in Roman Britain
- Lindsey Smith, project leader
- Richard Hobbs
- Professor Mike Fulford and Dr Hella Eckardt, University Of Reading
- Arts and Humanities Research Council (Collaborative Doctoral Award)
- The British Museum
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This project undertakes research on over 100 pieces of Romano-British pewter tableware vessels held by the British Museum. The collection has been growing since 1844 and this is the first time it has been fully researched or published.
The majority of items are bowls, platters, plates, jugs, ingots and ‘vessels’ and a common interpretation is that they were functional utilitarian pieces comprising of the typical Roman dining accoutrement of wealthy villa owners. However, provenance from a number of finds, has been found in areas not typically associated with a high number of Roman villas, such as the Fens in East Anglia and other wet or watery places.
Alternative interpretations drawing on scientific analysis of alloy composition, wear marks, inscriptions, shapes and form will be considered and, to date, evidence rarely shows indications of major wear due to use. Added to the fact that pewter is a soft material (with high lead content), and is therefore not necessarily suitable for use at the table, this evidence challenges the traditional interpretation.
Evidence from hoards that have included pewter, and depositional data, will form a major part of this research and will aim to address wider social, economic, religious, political and art-historical issues. For example, the project will look at the relationship of vessel forms to contemporary ceramics and silver vessels, the connection with literacy and early Christian iconography and the relationship with continental finds of pewter.
The results of this project will be published after the submission of a PhD thesis in 2010.
The main objectives are:
- To help the British Museum understand the significance of this important collection and to circulate the data to stimulate wider debate concerning how we study value-laden artefacts
- Construct a detailed catalogue recording shape and form, wear marks, inscriptions and more to form the framework from which comparable questions can be made
- Improve our knowledge of the styles and functional use of pewter and juxtapose this against other ranges of artefacts (ceramics, glass, metals) across regional and continental parallels
- Improve on the chronology and perhaps show how varied habits of metal-working were in different regions amongst different communities
- Go beyond the physical object–contextual perspective and enhance existing theories of pewter use by taking account of regional and cultural diversities.