Category Archives: Virtual Vault

Object highlights from archaeological collections at Brown University.

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.


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).

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.