Rare Roman artefacts donated to Canterbury’s Teece Museum
A unique bronze spoon and patera from the early period of the Roman Empire have been gifted to the University of Canterbury (UC).
A Roman-era spoon and patera, a shallow metal libation bowl, have been gifted to the Teece Museum and Logie Collection for teaching and research purposes.
The artefacts will be used for teaching and research related to Roman social culture, cultural belief systems, food consumption and ancient craftsmanship and construction techniques.
With almost no other comparative examples in other museums around Aotearoa New Zealand, the pieces will serve as an inimitable addition to the Teece Museum’s upcoming exhibition focused on food and feasting in the ancient world, ‘Fantastic Feasts’. Opening 6 April, the patera will be on display as part of the exhibition, while the spoon will be used for hands-on teaching with visiting school classes.
The spoon was donated by the PhiloLogie Society at UC and the patera was donated by Doug and Anemarie Gold of Wellington. The patera is said to have previously been in the collection of Norbert Schimmel, who eventually donated a large proportion of his private collection to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
"The PhiloLogie Society is delighted to be able to present the James Logie Memorial Collection with a Roman spoon, and to do so in time for the upcoming exhibition at the Teece Museum,” says the President of the of the PhiloLogie Society and UC Classics Senior Lecturer Dr Gary Morrison.
“As a society, this small gesture represents an important step in our post-earthquake recovery. This purchase and gift signals to both our membership and the wider community that we are active and are looking for new ways to enhance the Collection.”
The large bronze spoon dates back to the second century CE and was likely used for eating shellfish and other small food-stuffs by an elite Roman family. It was probably made in Roman Britain.
“Part of the appeal is that the spoon is very familiar, so it provides an important human connection to antiquity,” explains Dr Morrison.
“It is very easy to think of the ancient world in a detached, abstract way and not recognise that the Romans and Greeks were people living everyday lives. The spoon helps make that connection.”
Dating to between the first century BCE and first century CE, the patera has a ribbed handle with the head of a wolf with bared teeth on the end indicating a high-quality piece. These shallow, rounded-form bowls were primarily used for serving food or drink at dinner parties or for pouring libations at religious ceremonies.
The Roman material in the Logie Collection is used for teaching in a number of University courses, particularly those offered by the UC Classics department. Roman artefacts are also popular with visiting primary and secondary schools taking part in the free education outreach programme at the Teece Museum. Increasing the range of Roman artefacts offers the potential for new student research projects in a number of disciplines.
-University of Canterbury