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Muse casket from the Esquiline treasure
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This domed silver casket, known as the Muse casket, is part of the Esquiline treasure, a collection of Roman silverware discovered in 1793 at the foot of the Esquiline Hill, Rome.

It was not meant to hold food or drink, but toiletries. The casket is designed to be suspended from chains and is fitted out inside to hold five small silver bottles for perfumes and unguents. Representations on Roman mosaics and wall paintings suggest that caskets of this form were made specifically for use at the baths. The panels around the scalloped body of the casket bear repousse figures of eight of the nine Muses, who can be distinguished by their costumes and individual attributes. The seated figure on the top of the lid has no attribute and therefore is not the ninth Muse but a substitute in the form of a real woman, associating the owner with the accomplishments of the Muses.

Muse casket from the Esquiline treasure


From Rome, 4th century ad
Ht 26.7 cm
Diam. 32.7 cm



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