These case or box mirrors, constructed just like modern, hinged ladies’ compacts, were very fashionable from the later 5th century into the 4th century. The decoration of the cover was always in repoussé. Frequently there was another disk within this cover with an incised decoration of a mythological figure. The actual mirror is the highly polished top of the bottom half of the box. A loop at the hinge allowed the mirror to be suspended as a wall decoration when not in active use.
This paint box still preserves its original cakes of pigment: one cake each of red (red ocher), blue (Egyptian blue), green (a mixture of Egyptian blue, yellow ocher, and orpiment) and two of black (carbon black, from charcoal). It belonged to Amenemope, who was vizier, or prime minister, under Amenhotep II. Amenemope probably used his paint box for recreation.
Inside some Roman houses, baths, and tombs, multiple layers of slow-drying stucco were applied to rough stone walls and divided into panels that were then painted. While the surface was still damp, fresh stucco was applied and modeled into decorative motifs and figures, which were left white to contrast with the painted background. These two relief panels likely came from the same building. The right panel depicts a seated woman extending her right arm toward a slender griffin (a mythological creature combining a feline body and an avian head) with raised wings. The left panel shows a winged female figure flanked by two deer and standing on a delicate tendril motif.
Despite the delicate nature of the precious gold and ivory materials, the stance of this small figurine conveys power and strength. It closely resembles ceramic statuettes identified as goddesses or priestesses found in the sanctuary space known as the “Pillar Shrine” within the Minoan palace of Cnossus, Crete. The snakes adorning the figure are symbolic of fertility and regenerative powers.
Scratched onto a wax layer, the lettering on this early 2nd century wooden writing tablet has survived. It is a deed of sale for a young female slave called Fortunata, described as ‘healthy and not liable to run away’. She cost 600 silver denarii - 2 years’ pay for a legionary soldier.
This gives us a rare glimpse into government staffing methods and the lives of Roman slaves: they could earn money and own slaves themselves. Fortunata was bought by a slave, called Vegetus Montanus, who worked in the treasury and who was, in turn, owned by another treasury slave.
Leather bikini trunks, tied on each side of the hips with leather laces. Small in size, they were probably worn by young girls who were acrobatic dancers.
This Roman bikini was recovered from a backfilled Roman well, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4. For many years these bikini briefs were unique but then a more richly decorated example was found at Shadwell, East London, and other fragments of Roman string briefs have now been found elsewhere in the City. All but one example (which comes from Mainz in Germany) have come from the domestic rubbish dumps of Roman London.
Depictions of bikini-like garments suggest a relationship with acrobats and other sports. A Roman statuette from France depicts a female acrobat wearing the briefs, no top and protective knee-pads. However, an alternative suggestion is that the garments may have been worn as everyday under-clothing or as a sanitary garment.
A copper-alloy helmet crest support for a helmet with central spike in the box cradle and outwardly-curving arms. The main upright is square in section, while the three rectangular-sectioned tongues, for attaching the item to the helmet, are bent through 90°.
Three parallel tongues are unusual as most crest supports of this type use a T-shaped arrangement, where the central tongue slotted into the socket on the crown of the helmet with the other two arms perpendicular to it curving to fit the shape of the bowl, and this arrangement affords the optimum stability for a crest. The London object, which seems to have been pushed flat before withdrawal, may have been made this way as a mistake. Central spikes in the crest cradle are not unknown, with at least four from Vindonissa (Windisch, SWitzerland), two from Rheingönheim (Germany) and two highly-ornamented examples from Neuß (Germany).
Dagger and sheath binding of a later type. The dagger has a broad strongly waisted blade which is very thin in section. There is a thin midrib defined by two fine grooves. The tip is corroded and has been restored. The handle is largely complete, although one outer plate is partly lost. The handle consists of a crescentic pommel, a grip with a central expansion, and a straight hilt guard. The handle is composite and made up of five layers. These consist of two outer plates of iron with a hollow section, two inner organic layers, the material unidentified, and a flat rectangular-sectioned tang sandwiched in the middle.
The open sheath frame was made from a single sheet of iron which was shaped and cut to form the side U-shaped side channels and front panels of the sheath