Category Archives: Virtual Vault

Weekly object highlights from archaeological collections at Brown University.

Lekythos

In celebration of National Olive Day (June 1), we’re taking a closer look at an object associated with olive oil storage – the lekythos!

Object: JI1724
JIAAW Collection

With a narrow neck and a single handle, the lekythos is a small vessel that stores perfumed olive oils or other balms. Associated with death and funerals in the Greek world, lekythoi were typically left near the burials sites of unmarried women, allowing women to partake in the common wedding practice of smearing themselves with oil as they prepared for marriage in the afterlife. Lekythoi commonly depicted images of either daily activities and rituals or funerary art like parting scenes, moments of loss, or burial practices.

-Elaina Kim ‘21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant 2017/18

See other examples of lekythoi:

Attributed to the Amasis Painter | Terracotta lekythos (oil flask) | Greek, Attic | Archaic | The Met

Redmond, Roland L. and Dudley T. Easby Jr. 1956. “Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1955-1956.” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 15(2): p. 54. Richter, Gisela M. A. 1970. “The Department of Greek and Roman Art: Triumphs and Tribulations.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, 3: pp. 84, 86-87, fig.

Lekythos

Penn Museum Object MS5463 – Lekythos

From the Harvard Art Museums’ collections Lekythos (oil flask): Visit to the Grave

Identification and Creation Object Number 1925.30.54 People Attributed to The Bird Painter Title Lekythos (oil flask): Visit to the Grave Classification Vessels Work Type vessel Date c. 430 BCE Places Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Attica Period Classical period, High Culture Greek Persistent Link https://hvrd.art/o/291597 Physical Descriptions Medium Terracotta with polychrome decoration Technique White-ground Dimensions H.

Poppy and Vine Capital Fragment

Object: Petra 12
JIAAW, Loan from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

This is a fragment of a Nabataean Corinthian column found in the Great Temple at Petra. Like many of the Great Temple pieces, this limestone piece features floral imagery in relief, this time depicting poppies and vines. Nabataeans used Hellenistic and Roman styles, like Corinthian columns, alongside local styles to create their own unique architecture. The poppies and vines in this fragment represent the local flora found in Petra’s cultivated landscape. Other column decorations include elements from faraway civilizations, like elephants, alluding to the vast reaches of Nabataen trade, or traditional Greek and Roman decoration like acanthus leaves. 

This is one of the many artifacts from Brown’s excavations from 1993 to 2008, directed by Martha Sharp Joukowsky, of a series of structures known as the “Great Temple Complex” of Petra. The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology began its work at Petra with the excavation of the Great Temple, however its involvement has continued with further research on the hinterlands of Petra. The Brown University Petra Archaeological Project (BUPAP) was an archaeological survey of the Petra hinterlands conducted from 2009 to 2013. The Brown University Petra Terraces Archaeological Project (BUPTAP) is currently underway, and is carrying out further research on the terraces examined in BUPAP’s initial research.  

-Jinette Jimenez ’21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant

Read more about Nabataean culture and and the motifs used at Petra here:

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Meaningful Motifs | AMNH

Today Petra’s spectacular 2,000-year-old architecture serves as an ancient archive of Nabataean culture. Much of the decoration had a purpose or meaning. Delicately crafted motifs decorate Petra’s tombs and temples, adding beauty while serving a symbolic and often protective function for the monuments they adorned.

Petra at the Joukowsky

The elephant capital outside Rhode Island HallPhoto taken by Rainey Zimmermann Welcome to the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, housed in Rhode Island Hall at Brown University. This building contains a large number of materials from the site of Petra, located in the Southern half of Jordan.

Lusterware Bowl

Object: D46
JIAAW, Day Collection

This partial ceramic bowl and the six fragments associated with it are made of relatively thin clay with a green and brown design coated in an iridescent glaze. The center of the bowl features an abstract geometric design with large brown dots and swirls in negative space. The wall of the bowl and the accompanying fragments reveal that the sides are delineated by green and brown colored bands. An epigraphic band marks the upper portion of the bowl’s inside wall, with a swirl pattern that matches the central design in negative space. Here, the word Allah is visible in bubble writing. Though not clearly pictured here, the largest fragment suggests that the exterior of the bowl is glazed with an equally intricate design as the inside.

-Jinette Jimenez ’21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant

See other examples of Islamic epigraphic ceramics and learn more about ceramics in the Ancient Islamic World:

Bowl with Leopard | The Met

Bowl The profile of this fine bowl, with its straight, low, hollow foot; a transitional section between the foot and the body that splays outward; and straight, flaring sides, makes it typical of the ceramic objects decorated with luster paint by Kashan workshops in the early thirteenth century

Bowl with Arabic Inscription,

Bowl This bowl exemplifies the distinctive group of Samanid-era ceramics, known as epigraphic wares, which have calligraphy as their major form of decoration.

Ceramic Arts of the Islamic World

The evolution of techniques and design of early Islamic ceramics Islamic Art and Architectural Historian, SOAS Alumna Photo by Bilal Randeree. This article sheds light on the evolution of techniques and the design of these early Islamic ceramics and how during a series of migrations to new geographical locations, Islamic potters adapted the ceramic tradition to these new lands.

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Saucer-shaped Oil Lamp

Object: D67
JIAAW, Day Collection

This ceramic oil lamp has a bowl-like shape with a raised center and a rim that has been folded over and pinched to form a place for the wick to rest. Both the interior and exterior of this lamp were glazed with a blue-turquoise color. Today, the lamp’s pigment appears iridescent, evidence of oxidation over time. The chip in the rim and the excess clay on the edge of the central fill hole allude to a missing handle that has been broken off of the lamp. The wick hole appears to have been filled in with clay, raising questions of its functionality. Perhaps this particular lamp was converted into a candlestick at some point.

-Jinette Jimenez ’21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant

Learn more about ancient oil lamps and see other examples of saucer-shaped lamps:

Description and History of Oil Lamps

Roman Oil Lamps Defined A lamp is a device that holds and burns fuel, typically oil, as a means of producing light. Although oil lamps have taken on a variety of shapes and sizes throughout history, the basic required components are a wick, fuel, a reservoir for fuel, and an air supply to maintain a flame.

oil-lamp | British Museum

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oil-lamp | British Museum

Description Glazed pottery oil lamp; wheel-made; light-brown clay fabric, covered inside with strips of yellow and light-brown glaze, including splashes of the same glaze on the exterior; open saucer form with a flate base, loop handle and pinched wick-hole. Curator’s comments Cf. W. S.

Pine Cone Capital Fragment

Object: Petra 9
JIAAW, Loan from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

This carved pine cone is a fragment of a Nabataean Corinthian column found in the Great Temple at Petra. Carved out of white limestone, the pine cones on this column were likely intended to depict an Aleppo pine cone. Such natural imagery is believed to be related to Dionysus, the Greek god of vegetation and wine, whose influence in the ancient world spread throughout the Mediterranean. The link between Dionysus and the pine cones featured on this column lies in the resin that is naturally produced by pine cones, which was commonly used to seal amphorae containing wine.

This is one of the many artifacts from Brown’s excavations from 1993 to 2008, directed by Martha Sharp Joukowsky, of a series of structures known as the “Great Temple Complex” of Petra. The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology began its work at Petra with the excavation of the Great Temple, however its involvement has continued with further research on the hinterlands of Petra. The Brown University Petra Archaeological Project (BUPAP) was an archaeological survey of the Petra hinterlands conducted from 2009 to 2013. The Brown University Petra Terraces Archaeological Project (BUPTAP) is currently underway, and is carrying out further research on the terraces examined in BUPAP’s initial research.

-Jinette Jimenez ’21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant

Learn more about pine cone capital fragments and Dionysus:

Pinecone Capital Fragments

One of the pinecone column capital fragmentsA second fragment Like many of the other objects on this tour, these carved pine cones are fragments of column capitals. These would have come from Nabataean Corinthian columns, and are made of white limestone. Pine cone resin also had many uses in the ancient world, particularly in wine…

Dionysus | Powers, Personality, Symbols, & Facts

Dionysus, also called Bacchus, in Greco-Roman religion, a nature god of fruitfulness and vegetation, especially known as a god of wine and ecstasy. In early Greek art he was represented as a bearded man, but later he was portrayed as youthful and effeminate. Learn more about Dionysus in this article.

Quadrigatus

Object: C028.08.02
JIAAW, Harkness Collection

RRC 28/3, Rome, 225-212 BCE, 6.54g 
This silver Roman Republican coin is called a quadrigatus after the four-horsed chariot (a quadriga) on the reverse (the back) of the coin. The quadriga is driven by the winged goddess Victory with Jupiter riding at her side holding a scepter in his left hand and preparing to hurl a thunderbolt with his right hand. The quadriga was a well known symbol and its presence on coins, especially in times of war, represented Roman military and political power and influence.

-Jess Porter, JIAAW Operations and Events Coordinator

Learn more about coin C028.08.02 and see other examples of this type of coin.

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology

RRC 28/3, Rome, 225-212 BCE, JIAAW 028.08.02, 6.54g Can you describe this coin for us? This Roman Republican coin (RRC 28.3) is generally called a quadrigatus (silver didrachm), a name which is at least as old as Livy (22.52.2; 22.54.2; 22.58.4) and Pliny the Elder (33.46 “notae argenti fuere bigae atque quadrigae; inde bigati quadrigatique dicti; the marks of silver [given to soldiers during the Second Punic War] were two-horse chariots and four-horse chariots; for this reason they are called ‘bigati’ and ‘quadrigati'”).

RRC 28/3

Type: Jupiter in quadriga, right, driven by Victory. Jupiter holds sceptre in left hand and hurls thunderbolt with right hand; incuse on tablet, inscription.

Kubachi Dishes

Objects: M039 and M047
JIAAW, Minassian Collection

These exquisite blue and white dishes belong to a family of ceramics called Kubachi ware. Kubachi wares are believed to have been produced in northwestern Iran during the 15th and 16th centuries, but are named after the village in the Caucasus where this type of pottery was primarily discovered. The blue and white motif that is common in Kubachi wares is largely inspired by the pottery of the Chinese Ming Dynasty, whose influence in this period stretched beyond Central Asia. Kubachi wares are made of stonepaste (also called fritware), a type of pottery in which crushed pieces of glass, or frit, were added to the clay allowing for the pottery to be fired at a lower temperature. This produced a strong white body which, as in these examples, could be glazed over with an opaque white solution, mimicking Chinese porcelain. 

The Joukowsky Institute’s collection contains more than a dozen examples of Kubachi ware, including turquoise and black pieces, polychrome pieces, and more blue and white pieces like those highlighted here. 

-Jinette Jimenez ’21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant

Learn more about Kubachi wares and see some other examples below. 

Pottery – Later Persian

Pottery – Pottery – Later Persian: Since the whole of Central Asia now lay under the Mongol domination, overland trade with China greatly increased. By the 15th century Chinese influence, particularly that of Ming blue-and-white, was predominant, and the older styles were tending to die out (see below China: Ming dynasty).

https://research.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=217245&partId=1&searchText=kubachi&page=1

Bowl | The Met

Kelekian, Dikran G. The Kelekian Collection of Persian and Analogous Potteries 1885-1910. Paris: Herbert Clarke, 1910. ill. pl. 81, Illustrates a similar piece [also Lane, pl. 20A] found at Koubatscha [sic], dated 873 A.H./1469 A.D. Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammedan Decorative Arts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930.

Dish with a Portrait of a Man | The Met

This dish belongs to a group of ceramics known as Kubachi ware. Named for a village in the Caucasus where this pottery was discovered in quantity, Kubachi wares are now thought to have actually been produced in Tabriz. One attribute of the Kubachi style is an uneven application of the glaze that has resulted in a surface-wide crackle.

The JIAAW Wreath

Object: Petra 37
JIAAW, Loan from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

This wreath, which you may recognize as the logo for the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, was uncovered in 1998 during the Petra Great Temple Excavation in Petra, Jordan (1993-2008, directed by Martha Sharp Joukowsky). This limestone carving was found built upside down into a late Byzantine wall located between columns in the east side of the Great Temple’s Lower Temenos. There is evidence that this stonework was reused in the wall alongside a number of other reused and replastered architectural fragments from other sites. The wreath is a great example of a common phenomenon seen at archaeological sites: the reuse of materials and spaces over time. In fact, the Great Temple itself is a site that was reused and occupied by various groups, including but not limited to the Nabataeans and the Romans. 

-Jinette Jimenez ’21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant

Learn more about objects from Petra currently at the Joukowsky Institute and the Petra Great Temple Excavation below.

Petra at the Joukowsky

The elephant capital outside Rhode Island HallPhoto taken by Rainey Zimmermann Welcome to the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, housed in Rhode Island Hall at Brown University. This building contains a large number of materials from the site of Petra, located in the Southern half of Jordan.

The Petra Great Temple | The Lower Temenos

In the Lower Temenos, large, white, hexagonal pavers were positioned above an extensive canalization system which has been traced from the Temple Forecourt under the Lower Temenos to the Wadi Musa. At the Southern end of the Lower Temenos, at one time, a central stairway led up to the Upper Temenos.

The Petra Great Temple | History

By 313 CE (AD), Christianity had become a state-recognized religion. In 330 CE, the Emperor Constantine established the Eastern Roman Empire with its capital at Constantinople. Although the 363 earthquake destroyed half of the city, it appears that Petra retained its urban vitality into late antiquity, when it was the seat of a Byzantine bishopric.