Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #aaotd

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Ancient Artefact of the Day: Bronze Mouse – complete with snack for nibbling; Roman, ca. 1st Century AD. Traditionally associated with the cult of the god Apollo Smintheus, but read on! #AAOTD #Mouse

Image: Getty Collection (96. AC. 268). Link -…
While an unassuming little piece, it falls into a category of artefact long associated with the cult of Apollo Smintheus, the deity who at the beginning of the ‘Iliad’ visits a plague upon the Greeks for their desecration of his temple and the mistreatment of his priest, Chryses.
These figurines are common throughout the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, with the British Museum alone holding 15 examples, including this dapper little chap sporting a Papposilenos mask.

Image: British Museum (1876,0510.2). Link –…
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The Palaikastro Kouros

A stunning lithochryselephantine statuette, ca. 1480-1425 BC, from Building 5 at Palaikastro. One of the most remarkable pieces of surviving Minoan art. #AAOTD #Minoan

Image: Archaeological Museum of Siteia (ΜΣ ΑΕ 8506)
Elements of the statuette, which stands approximately 0.5m high, were found over several seasons of excavations, with the individual pieces designed to be connected by dowel fittings.

Image: Figures 5.1 & 5.2 from Moak 2000 (see end of thread for citations)
A composite creation of ivory, gold, serpentine, and rock crystal, the statuette is one of the most evocative pieces of Minoan art. I am always struck by the quality of the modelling of the musculature of the arms.

Image: Plate Db (British School at Athens Studies, 2000, Vol. 6)
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: A bronze statuette of a griffin battling with a human figure, perhaps intended to be an Arimaspian, ca. 125-75 BC. #AAOTD #Griffin

Image: J. Paul Getty Museum (96.AB.152)
The provenance of this piece is not clear, although its small size (7.9 cm high) is suggestive that it may originally have been a an attachment to a large bronze vessel.
Certainly as early as the seventh century BC, griffin heads were used as decorative elements on cauldrons. This example is particularly fine, found in the bed of the Kladeos river at Olympia in 1914, associated with the sanctuary of Zeus.

Image: Metropolitan Museum (1972.118.54)
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The Artemision Bronze, ca. 460 BC - one of the most famous bronzes to survive from the ancient world, recovered off Cape Artemision, the northern point of Euboea. #AAOTD

Image: Athens National Archaeological Museum, Inv. No. 15161
At slightly larger than life-size (2.09m high), the clear musculature and full-bearded face are splendidly executed, though the figure is perhaps best viewed in silhouette, as the depiction does seem to telescope from other perspectives.
For much of the study of the piece, there was much debate whether the figure depicted was a Poseidon hurling a trident, or a Zeus hurling a thunderbolt - as both the size and appearance suggest a divinity rather than a mortal athlete.
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The Blacas Cameo - a triple-layered sardonyx cameo bearing a portrait of the Emperor Augustus, usually dated to ca. AD 14-20. #AAOTD #Augustus

Image: British Museum (1867,0507.484)
This cameo is often considered among the group of so-called 'State Cameos', which includes the Gemma Augustea and other renowned pieces.

The Blacas Cameo (also known as the Strozzi Cameo) can be traced back to 1731, where it is described as being part of the collection of the Strozzi Cabinet in Florence. Sadly, its provenance earlier than this is unknown.
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The Great Dish from the Mildenhall Treasure, a stunning piece of 4th Century AD Romano-British silverwork, with decoration focussed on Bacchic revelry. #AAOTD

Image: British Museum (1946,1007.1)
The Mildenhall Treasure was discovered in 1946 and is one of the most spectacular survivals of silverware from the late Roman empire.
The decoration on the Great Dish, as it is called, is centred on Bacchus, though the central tondo is interpreted as being a face of Oceanus with dolphins, with a surrounding frieze of nymphs and hippocamps, then a third band of decoration dominated by Satyrs and Maenads.
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The so-called 'Sword of Tiberius', discovered in 1848 near the river Rhine, outside the German city of Mainz, which was a major legionary fortress during the imperial period. #AAOTD

Image: British Museum (1866,0806.1)
The preservation of the piece is remarkable, especially the scabbard itself, which has given rise to much speculation about its decoration and significance.
It is now generally agreed that the decoration alludes to Augustus' ceding of a military victory to Tiberius after a successful Alpine campaign. This is primarily informed by the plate showing Augustus flanked by Mars and Victory.
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: An Attic Black-Figure kantharos with a donkey head decoration, ca. 520-500 BC - a fantastic piece of Dionysiac vase-painting. #AAOTD

Image: British Museum (1876,0328.5)
The decoration on the vase is quite remarkable, with the donkey's head being particularly well-modelled. In addition there is also an ithyphallic satyr with his hand raised to his brow in a gesture that is known as άποσκοπενων.
Pliny the Elder (NH 35.138) tells us that this gesture - 'The Man Shading His Eyes' - is the gesture used by Antiphilus in his painting 'Satyr with Leopard's Skin', which may also be linked with dances described by Athenaeus (Learned Banqueters 14.629).
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The Apollo from the House of the Citharist, Pompeii (1.4.1-3; connected with 1.4.25), excavated in 1858. #AAOTD #Apollo

Image: Museo Nazionale Archeologico, Naples: inv. 5630; Archivio dell’Arte – Pedicini Fotografi
A fantastic piece of Hellenistic bronze-work, usually identified as portraying Apollo in his guise as a musician. The figure's eyes are inset in stone; the nipples are inlaid with copper.A plaque in his raised left hand has been deemed a plectrum.
Yet while we may marvel at this now, indeed the statue gave the property its name, it is likely that for the owner of the house, the piece was little more than an item of furniture - albeit a luxury piece - with no cultic associations.
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The Relief of Cleopatra VII and Caesarion at the Dendera Temple.

Caesarion, the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, is thought to have been born on this day - 23 June - in 47 BC. #AAOTD #Caesarion

Image: Wikimedia Commons
The birth of Caesarion was a major event in the ancient world, and one that quickly became one of great political significance, as he was a figure who could - in theory - unify Rome and Egypt. Thus the issue of his legitimacy became key.
"Indeed M. Antonius confirmed to the senate that [Caesarion] had been acknowledged by [Caesar] and that C. Matius and C. Oppius knew this along with the rest of Caesar’s friends" (Suetonius, Divine Julius 52).

The fact that Mark Antony felt it necessary to make such a claim...
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: It's been a hell of a day, so here's one to just cheer me up.

A Roman bronze statuette of a slightly wonky, but utterly adorable, dog, ca. 2nd-3rd Century AD. #AAOTD #Dog

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (62.10.3)
The Roman fondness for dogs as both pets and useful hunting animals is well attested, but is really hammered home by characterful pieces such as this, although the lack of provenance is notable.
A similar phenomenon affects this 1st–2nd century AD example which - while deliciously derpy - cannot be contextualised.

Image: J. Paul Getty Museum (57.AB.16)
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: One of my favourite figures from Greek mythology is Ajax, so here's a bronze statuette thought to be a representation of his suicide: Greek Geometric, ca. 700 BC. #AAOTD #Ajax

Image: British Museum (1865,1118.230)
The suicide of Ajax, following his divinely caused mania in which he slaughtered a flock of sheep thinking them the other Greek leaders at Troy, was a popular subject in ancient art.
There are other notable examples of his death in bronze, such as this piece from Aegina, ca. 480 BC.

Image: Archaeological Museum, Florence
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(Bonus) Ancient Artefact of the Day: The famous Tauroctony scene from the Mithraeum at Nersae, AD 172, suurounded by other scenes from the myths of Mithras. #AAOTD #Mithras

Image: National Museum of Rome, Baths of Diocletian (CIMRM 650)
As the inscription attests, this was set up by Apronianus, the civic treasurer, at his own expense:

Apronianus rei p(ublicae) ark(arius) sua pecunia fecit.
This is a useful inscription that confirms that at this time the cult had not received state sponsorship, the phrase 'sua pecunia' reinforcing the personal connection between worshipper and cult.
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: An eroto-magical amulet dating to the 1st-3rd Centuries AD, from Tarsus in Cilicia. The stone is ancient, but the gold setting is a modern addition. #AAOTD #Magic

Image: BnF (Inv.58.2208)
The use of 'magnetic stones' is well-attested in ancient magic, and there have been claims that the design of this piece may be linked to certain spells in the Greek Magical Papyri, such as Ogden's claim (2009: 262, 'Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds)...
... that this piece may be connected with PGM IV.1716-1870, or the so-called 'Sword of Dardanos' spell. This is primarily informed by the sexual position adopted by the couple, as the spell specifies engraving "Aphrodite sitting astride Psyche".
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A Bonus Ancient Artefact of the Day: to tie in with #MuseumsUnlocked on 'Gold, Silver, and Jewels'

The so-called 'Burial Mask of Agamemnon', one of the most famous artefacts of the Aegean Bronze Age. #AAOTD

Image: Mask NM 624, from the southern burial in shaft grave V, Mycenae
I remember when I first saw this piece and it simply blew me away. Excavated by Schliemann in 1876, the piece captured the popular imagination and has become one of the typical images used to illustrate the period.
However, work by my own PhD Supervisor Oliver Dickinson, questioned the validity of the attribution, claiming instead that it was actually Mask NM 623 from the northern burial of Shaft Grave V that Schliemann considered to be the 'face of Agamemnon'.

Image: NM 623
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: One of the two silver skyphoi from the Berthouville Hoard, decorated with Centaurs, and a fine example of Roman luxury silver. #AAOTD #MuseumsUnlocked

Image: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Cabinet des Médailles Cat. No.61
Having looked at the Berthouville Treasure yesterday too, I had to come back to it to focus on these amazing cups with their stunning decoration of Bacchic revelry.
The Bacchic setting is alluded to through carefully selected decorative motifs, such as the grape clusters, pouring rhyta, laurels, and musical instruments which fill the scene.
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The statuette of Mercury from the Berthouville Hoard, AD 175-225, likely to have been the votive contents of a shrine of Mercury Canetonensis. #AAOTD

Image: Bibliothèque nationale de France & Getty Villa
Caesar notes the primacy of the cult of Mercury in his 'Gallic Wars' (6.17): "There are numerous images of him; they declare him the inventor of all arts, the guide for every road and journey, and they deem him to have the greatest influence for all money-making and traffic."
The Hoard itself is a spectacular collection of material, including several objects inscribed as ex-votos from Q. Domitius Tutus.

Image: Bibliothèque nationale de France & Getty Museum
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: A simply stunning gold bowl - the Patera of Rennes - decorated with a scene of Bacchus and Hercules, with inset decoration of gold coins, ca. AD 210. #AAOTD

Image: Bibliothèque nationale de France Inv.56.94
Discovered in 1774, the piece is dated through the numismatic elements, the latest of which is a representation of Geta. As this would not have been reissued after his assassination and subsequent damnatio memoriae, this provides a 'terminus post quem' for the patera.
The piece also has a decided Severan connection through the central decoration of Bacchus and Hercules, the tutelary deities of Leptis Magna - the birthplace of Septimius Severus - both of whom featured on his coinage.

Image: RIC IV Septimius Severus 25
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: A lovely example of an Etruscan funerary brazier, ca. 525 BC, typical of the ceramic products of Caere (modern Cerveteri). #AAOTD

Images: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (2000.25.A)
The decorative frieze around the rim, showing birds, a man chasing a hare into a net, butting goats, and dogs, was achieved by rolling a cylinder impression, repeating the pattern six times around the vessel.
Braziers are a common feature of Etruscan funerary deposits, with the famous example being the Caeretan brazier from the Maroi Tomb III at Cerveteri, which was found containing coals, a bronze poker and eggs.

Image: Figure 18 from the 'Last Supper in Pompeii' publication (2019)
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The 'Empress Pepper-Pot' from the Hoxne Hoard, buried in the Fifth Century AD in Suffolk, UK.

A Roman gilded silver piperatorium, ca. AD 300-400. #AAOTD

Image: British Museum (1994,0408.33)
This exquisite little piece was found with three other piperatoria (the wrestling figures of Hercules and Antaeus, and two animal groups, a reclining goat or ibex and a hound chasing a hare), and some 15,000 Roman coins along with other precious objects.
It is thought that the pepper-pot may be intended as a representation of the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, although it must be acknowledged that this is somewhat tenuous at best.
Read 6 tweets
A Bonus Ancient Artefact of the Day: To unite #AAOTD with #MuseumsUnlocked - a bronze sistrum, ca. AD 50-150, a cultic rattle typically associated with eastern religions, such as that of the deities Isis and Serapis.

Image: British Museum (1756,0101.541)
The cult of Isis was not always a popular one in Rome, despite this sistrum being found in the environs of Rome, and certainly under the Julio-Claudian emperors, the cult was one of a number of foreign religious practices that were oppressed.
We may recall that Suetonius (Augustus 93.1) claimed that while Augustus showed respect for ancient foreign rites, he despised the rest; Tiberius abolished foreign cults at Rome, forcing the initiates to burn their vestments and accessories (Suetonius, Tiberius 36.1).
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: The Arezzo Chimaera

A masterpiece of Etruscan bronze-work, this Fifth Century BC piece was discovered on November 15, 1553 by construction workers near the San Lorentino gate in Arezzo. #AAOTD

Image: National Archaeological Museum, Florence
Originally discovered in a fragmentary condition, it was thought to be a lion, until the work of Vasari identified it as being the mythical Chimaera.
It is believed to have originally been part of a statue group, showing the conflict between the Chimaera and the hero Bellerophon.

Image: Lakonian Black Figure Kylix, attributed to the Boread Painter: J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu 85. AE. 121)
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Ancient Artefact of the Day: A lead water pipe from the Chester Legionary Fortress, AD 79, bearing the inscription:



Image: RIB 2.3.2434.1 [ILS 8704a]; Grosvenor Museum
The inscription translates as:

"When Emperor Vespasian, for the 9th time, and Titus Imperator, for the 7th time, were consuls, Cn. Julius Agricola, propraetorian legate of Augustus (made this)"

As it's Agricola's birthday, it seems an appropriate #AAOTD!
The clear reference to the consulships of Vespasian and Titus allow us to date this pipework to the opening months of AD 79, with Agricola himself as governor of the province featuring prominently.
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A Bonus Ancient Artefact of the Day: A two-handled silver cup, showing Odysseus about to enter the Underworld, ca. 1st Century AD. #AAOTD

Image: J. Paul Getty Museum (96. AM. 57)
Roman silverware frequently featured scenes drawn from mythology, but this one seems to be a curious merging of Greek myth and Roman philosophy, as while the figure with raised sword seems likely to be Odysseus, the other figures are less clear.
The other side of the vessel shows a group of seven men dressed as 'philosophers', certainly not the individuals whom Odysseus encountered on his katabasis.
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