plate, precious

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Vessels of gold and silver are often mentioned in literary texts. Pindar described a shallow gold bowl as ‘the peak of all possessions’. Greek temple inventories list large quantities of plate and they often tell us the weights of items. Herodotus also records the gold and silver dedications made by various Lydian kings such as Gyges, Alyattes, and Croesus. As silver and gold can be reworked, few items of ancient plate have survived in their original form. Likewise sanctuaries as depositories of such wealth were often looted. The study of Roman plate is helped by the discovery of plate lost in the eruption of Vesuvius in ad 79. Two major hoards have been recovered: one at Boscoreale and the other in the House of Menander at Pompeii.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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