Friday, February 7, 2014

A Roman Balsamarium from Kent

Found by an amateur collector in 2012, this little copper alloy vase is 5 cm (2 1/2 inches) tall. Perhaps made in Gaul in the 3rd century CE, the relief shows a Bacchic scene. This is from the wonderful website of the British Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is the right way for countries to control the digging up of their archaeological treasures, as opposed to the punitive nonsense they have in Italy. The way it works is that if you find something valuable on your property you report it to the government. If they want it, they have the right to buy it from you for a price they set, but which is supposed to reflect market value. If they don't want it, you get clear title. Either way they photograph the object and record where it was found; information on 920,000 objects is now on the PAS website.

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