Browse Exhibits (4 total)

Brooches of the Late Empire

When looking for artifacts that reflect the later years of the Roman Empire, there are many to choose from.  Coins can denote years and emperors, pottery can show the lifestyle of citizens, ordinary and elite.  However, brooches offer a unique insight.  They served as markers, and these markers could either be of status, rank, or sub-servitude.  Many people of importance had brooches, ranging from civil servants to military officials.  Naturally, once the elite saw these fascinating pieces of jewelry, they too incorporated them into their dress style.  Often ornate, each type of brooch can be examined based off its location within the empire, its material, and any inscriptions or decorations.  A major question this then posed was “What kinds of brooches were there in the late empire, and what did these brooches reflect?” and that is what this exhibit tries to examine.

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Grave Goods

This grave good exhibit works to answer my question of whether Roman religions, such as paganism and Christianity, affect what objects Romans buried with the deceased. My thesis states that tradition had a heavier hand in Roman grave goods more so than the dominant religion did at the time. The objects in this exhbit help support 

For example, the crossbow brooch and the glass dish feature Christian iconography, but were buried in the burial because the living followed pagan traditions of banqueting and placing jewelry with the dead. The crossbow brooch slightly complicated my argument because it was heavily centered around a political entity, which could be a whole different topic of discussion. The gold votive plaque, however, was the greatest find for this exhibit. Not only was it found in southeastern Eueope, but it also revealed more than one could ever imagine about Roman religion, tradition, and imperial idoltry. It provided a look into the argument at every angle. 

Each object studied and catalogued provided a visual and firsthand glimpse into the graves of deceased Romans. By studying the glass dish, I could conclude that the Christian Romans continued banqueting but also featured their own iconography. I also saw how Christians continued to bury jewelry with the departed while including an image that signified their beliefs. The gold votive drew me to the conclusion that Christians did not sway from a custom because pagans practiced the same activity. It also told me more about how Romans exercised their religion or practiced outside of scripture. 

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The Gravestone Speaks: Iconography in Tombstones from Tomis

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This exhibit presents three gravestones from ancient Tomis, modern Constanța, in Romania. They date from the late 2nd to the early 3rd century AD and their interest lies in the information they offer about the burial practices in a coastal city next to the Black Sea during the Later Roman Empire. More specifically they tell little stories about the peoples both living and dead that inhabited this region in early Late Antiquity. The messages conveyed conjugate words and images to communicate not only assumptions and ideologies related to the afterlife but more importantly perhaps views about the life in the present world.

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The Vrap Treasure

The hoard of precious metalwork objects known either as the Vrap Treasure or the Avar Treasure was found in the site known today as Vrap, a village in central Albania. The treasure itself is comprised of a number of gold and silver vessels and a large number of gilded adornments, mostly belt fittings, which were all seemingly found collected inside a cauldron in Vrap. While the exact time and nature of their discovery seems to be unknown, the treasure was in the possession of a J. Pierpont Morgan until 1917, after which point it was given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where it is still held today in Gallery 301.

Further information about the Avars and the treasure itself can be explored through the links to the right.

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