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Bronze vessels and furnishings

The room contains a selection of bronze vessels which were found mainly in Pompeii and Herculaneum. There is an extremely wide variety of vessel shapes, with original creations and reworkings of older forms, which documents the different uses of the vessels used in the kitchen and during banquets.

History and formationThe room contains a recent display that contains a selection of bronze vessels which were found mainly in the Vesuvian cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The Roman world has produced a large quantity of bronze vessels: besides objects of extremely high artistic quality made by highly specialised craftsmen, there are many more modest finds which offer a vivid insight into everyday life. In the first century AD Campania played an extremely important role in the production of bronze vases; the use of the wheel used to give the vase a specific shape and not just to retouch the surface, together with the greater use of smelting compared to hammering made it possible to produce a series of highly functional vases of excellent quality in workshops with an efficient network of trade and distribution. ItineraryThere was a vast repertoire of vessels, of which various types are illustrated in the room; some of them were original creations, such as baskets and others were reworked versions of older forms derived from the Greek and Hellenistic tradition such as basins, amphorae, jugs with trefoil spouts and askoi. The huge variety of bronze vessels found in the Vesuvian sites reflects their various uses in daily life. Saucepans, cauldrons and frying pans were used for cooking as can be seen from the traces of blackening from exposure to flame, while for cosmetics and tableware, as well as for ritual occasions, amphorae, jugs, paterae, buckets and bowls were used; the custom of not using cutlery meant that it was necessary to wash before, during and after meals. Other vessels linked to coking or dining include funnels, colanders and sieves, cups and pie dishes. Banquetting tableware was also characterised by decorated handles. The decoration on handles tends to be on the lower join and the main decorative features include characters of the Dionysian world with depictions of masks of Silenuses, Satyrs and Maenads but there are also Bacchic symbols with baskets of fruit, pan pipes and thyrsi on the handles. Many mythological figures are depicted as masks: Hercules, Tritons, Sirens, Medusas and Sphinxes. Mythological themes are united with an animal and plant repertoire: acanthus leaves, stylised palmettes and lotus blossoms. There is an extremely fine situla with elegant decoration on the rim and, on the join of the handle, rosettes and a beautiful damascened female head; on the inside of the handles, between two rectangular scrolls is the name, Cornelia Chelidon, probably that of the owner.

Further information
Collection data

Tassinari 1993.

Location: First floor; room LXXXVII