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Silver Ewer

Early Byzantine
4th century
20 cm (7 7/8 in.)

On view


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Additional Image Full view, with BZ.1938.83
Full view, with BZ.1938.83

This silver ewer reflects the good life that could be found in a household in Daphne, the wealthy suburb of the great commercial city of Antioch. In one of the villas, the ewer was discovered purposely buried together with three other silver objects: a plate, a bowl, and a statuette of Aphrodite—the latter perhaps a guardian of the household (cf. Ross, 1953; Mango, 1986). Probably associated with the bowl, the ewer presumably formed a set such as those known as parts of the dinner service in well-to-do Roman households: servants would pour water from a ewer over the hands of diners and catch it in a bowl before eating. Although this ewer is not decorated, its bulbous body, long neck, and sharply angled handle place it in the fourth century. The cache of objects was excavated in the House of Menander, an extensive urban villa whose name derives from a representation of the famous Hellenistic Greek playwright on a floor mosaic. The mosaic with Fishing Erotes at Dumbarton Oaks (BZ.1940.64) also comes from this villa.

- S. Zwirn

The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection of Harvard University, Handbook of the Collection (Washington, D.C., 1946), 53, no. 105.

M. C. Ross, "A Silver Treasure from Daphne-Harbie," Archaeology 6.1 (1953): 39-41.

The Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Harvard University (Washington, D.C., 1955), 53, no. 123.

M. C. Ross, Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Mediaeval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Vol. 1, Metalwork, Ceramics, Glass, Glyptics, Painting (Washington, D.C., 1962), 1, no. 1, pl. 1.

Handbook of the Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks (Washington, D.C., 1967), 15, no. 53.

H. A. Cahn and A. Kaufmann-Heinimann, eds., Der spätrömische Silberschatz von Kaiseraugst (Derendingen, 1984), 192, 321.

M. M. Mango, C. E. Snow, and T. Drayman Weisser, Silver from Early Byzantium: the Kaper Koraon and Related Treasures, exh. cat. Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, 1986), 270-71, no. 97.

A. Kaufmann-Heinimann, Götter und Lararien aus Augusta Raurica: Herstellung, Fundzusammenhänge und sakrale Funktion figürlicher Bronzen in einer römischen Stadt, Forschungen in Augst 26 (Augst, 1998), 312.

C. Kondoleon, Antioch: The Lost Ancient City, exh. cat. Worcester Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Baltimore Museum of Art (Princeton, 2000), no. 71.

G. Bühl, ed., Dumbarton Oaks: The Collections (Washington, D.C., 2008), 54, pl. p.55.

Exhibition History
Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, "A Selection of Ivories, Bronzes, Metalwork and other Objects from the Dumbarton Oaks Collection," Nov. 15 - Dec. 31, 1945.

Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, "Silver Treasure from Early Byzantium," April 18 - Aug. 17, 1986.

Worcester, Mass., Worcester Art Museum, "Antioch: The Lost Ancient City," October 7, 2000 - February 4, 2001; also Cleveland Museum of Art, March 18 - June 3, 2001; Baltimore Museum of Art, Sept. 16 - Dec. 30, 2001.

Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, "Scattered Evidence: Excavating Antioch-on-the-Orontes," April 7-October 10, 2010.

Acquisition History
Excavated at Daphne-Harbie by Antioch Expedition, 1939 season: sector DH--26--M/N: part of a silver hoard found northeast of the northeast corner of Room 3, under a later drain.

Antioch Expedition, 1939-1940.

Partial share,1940, of excavated finds and purchases from Antioch allotted to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss as members of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity.

Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, Dumbarton Oaks, March-November 1940.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C., November, 1940.

Ivy Shaped | Scalloped|Scallop-Edged