Maryport: Cohors I Hispanorum

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Maryport © David Gill

The Senhouse Roman Museum at the Roman fort of Maryport on the Cumbrian coast contains an extensive series of Latin inscriptions. Among them is this altar (RIB 816), found in 1870 to the north-east of the fort.  It was dedicated by the prefect of the Cohors I Hispanorum, L. Antistius Lupus Verianus, from Sicca in Africa (Numidia Proconsularis). David Breeze provisionally dates his command to 136 (and prior to 139 when the Cohors I Delmatarum arrived).

Rome: The Hadrianeum

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Relief probably from the Hadrianeum (Capitoline Museum) © David Gill

The Hadrianeum in Rome lay in the Campus Martius on the west side of the Via Lata, to the south of the Ara Pacis. Parts of the temple can be seen along one side of the Piazza di Pietra. Eleven Corinthian columns, made of Proconnesian marble, as well as the north side of the cella are incorporated into the Borsa.

There is no epigraphic evidence to confirm the identity of the temple although Antoninus Pius dedicated one to him in this area in AD 145; this is the most likely interpretation for this structure.

A series of 24 reliefs cut from Proconnesian marble have been associated with the temple. They were probably incorporated on the cella. The figure shown here, holding a vexillum, probably represents the province of Mauretania. The relief showing shields and an axe probably represent trophies.

For more of the reliefs, including those in Naples, see Following Hadrian.

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The Hadrianeum, Rome © David Gill
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Relief from the Hadrianeum, Rome (Capitoline Museum) © David Gill

The West Row Roman Treasure from Suffolk

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Mildenhall Dish © David Gill

A suggestion has been made that the Mildenhall Treasure be renamed as the West Row Treasure after the parish in which it was found (“Mildenhall Treasure: British Museum steps in to row over Roman hoard”, BBC News 22 February 2020).

Colchester Castle Museum: engaging with the past

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Colchester Castle Museum © David Gill

The collection within Colchester Castle contains one of the best presented collections of objects from Roman Britain. It is displayed in an imaginative and engaging way from the mosaics and (funerary) sculptures to the inscriptions and pottery.

In spite of this Colchester has, surprisingly, not featured as high in the list of museums for the RSA Heritage Index.

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Roman funerary monuments in Colchester Castle © David Gill

Troy at the British Museum

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Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

The Troy: Myth and Reality exhibition at the British Museum has just opened in Gallery 30. The beautifully designed exhibition takes the visitor from the Skaian Gate at Troy through to the installation of the Shield of Achilles.

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‘The Death of Hector, King Priam and the Skaian Gate’, Anthony Caro, 1993–94. Photo: David Gill

The narrative of the Trojan War was supported by a range of objects, underpinned with figure-decorated pottery from the museum’s extensive collection. One of the first pieces on display is the Geometric ‘Nestor’s cup’ from Pithekoussai (‘I am the cup of Nestor, good to drink from’).

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Skyphos from Pithekoussai © David Gill

There is a section on the excavations at Troy, and another one on the documentary evidence. The final section is on the reception of Troy, and includes a poem written by a British officer at Gallipoli in his copy of The Shropshire Lad. 

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Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

The exhibition contained two late 15th century Italian panels by Biagio d’Antonio (on loan from the Fitzwilliam Museum) showing the Death of Hector and the Wooden Horse entering the city.

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The Siege of Troy, Biagio d’Antonio. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum. Photo: David Gill

Schliemann’s part in the uncovering of Troy was explored a space that displayed some of the finds from the excavations against a backdrop of the great trench.

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Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

What were the personal highlights in the exhibition? The Roman silver kantharoi from Hoby in Denmark were stunning pieces of luxury art. The representation of Priam seeking the return of Hektor’s body before Achilles on one of them was moving.

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Kantharos from Hoby. Denmark, Nationalmuseet. Photo: David Gill

The real surprise was the Roman sarcophagus from Ephesus that now forms part of the collection at Woburn Abbey. This scene shows the weighing of Hektor’s body.

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Sarcophagus from Ephesus. Woburn Abbey. Photo: David Gill

This is one of the best temporary exhibitions to be mounted in Room 30. The design and installation of the exhibition was inspired, especially the graphics explaining the iconography on Attic figure-decorated pottery.

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Shield of Achilles. Spencer Finch, 2013. Photo: David Gill

Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019

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Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019 © David Gill

The Awards Ceremony for Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019 was held at the University of Suffolk on Wednesday 30 October 2019. I was honoured to be one of the judges and we were all impressed by the variety and quality of museums across the county.

The results:

  • Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019: large category. The Red House, Aldeburgh
  • Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019: small category. Bawdsey Radar
    • Highly Commended: Felixstowe Museum
  • Innovation Award. Ipswich Museum
  • Family Friendly Award. Lowestoft Maritime Museum
  • Volunteers of the Year: Natural Science Volunteer Team at Ipswich Museum
    • Highly Commended: Elaine Nason from Laxfield Museum and Paul Durbidge from Lowestoft Museum
  • Schools Session Award. Palace House

Object of the Year was … The Tin of Chocolate Worm Cakes from the Museum of East Anglian Life.

Many congratulations to the winners and all those taking part.

News items

  • Story in the EADT (31 October 2019)

Jupiter Dolichenus at Vindolanda

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Vindolanda, temple of Jupiter Dolichenus © David Gill

The sanctuary of Jupiter Dolichenus lies just inside the northern ramparts of the fort at Vindolanda. It was excavated in 2009.

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Vindolanda, altar of Jupiter Dolichenus © David Gill

One of the finds was a stone inscribed altar (now displayed in the museum). It bears a relief of Jupiter standing on the back of a bull. The inscription is dedicated to Jupiter Dol<o>chenus by Sulpicius Pudens, prefect of the Fourth Cohort Gallorum.

Sulpicius Pudens also appears on a second altar dedicated to Jupiter (but not Jupiter Dolichenus) that was found at Staward Pele in 1885 (RIB 1688). The earliest dedication to Jupiter was probably made by the prefect Quintus Petronius Urbicus dating to 213-235 (RIB 1686). Another prefect also made a dedication to Jupiter (RIB 1687). A fourth inscription, dedicated Naevius Hilarus, probably came from Vindolanda (RIB 2062). Some of these may have been dedicated in the praetorium building.

The Fourth Cohort Gallorum was stationed at Vindolanda from c. 213 to 367. The unit is identified in an inscription of c. 213 (RIB 1705). The unit is recorded in a building inscription of 223 (RIB 1706); it probably relates to the rebuilding of the south gate of the fort. The cohort is recorded on an inscription that dates to the reign of Probus, 276–282 (RIB 1710). Another prefect, Pituanius Secundus, erected an altar to the genius of the praetorium at Vindolanda (RIB 1685).

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Altar dedication by Quintus Petronius Urbicus from Vindolanda, Chesters Museum © David Gill