Southern Italian Ancient Roman Blackware Cup


An extremely interesting and rare Ancient Roman blackware cup featuring a squat, ovoid body which tapers into a small, flat foot. A long, cylindrical neck funnels into the body. The vessel is decorated with a white glaze, displaying two wavy patterns going around the body, separating three large letters and four large circles.

Date: Circa 1st-3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex JL Surrey collection, previously with a gentleman's collection in Cambridge, 2000's, acquired from Gorny and Mosch in Munich either by private treaty or from one of their auctions.
Condition: Fine condition, restoration and repairs across the rim, neck and body. Chip to the lower section of the body and on the letter 'I'


SKU: AH-575 Category: Tags: ,

The vessel testifies to the richness of southern italian culture in the Roman times. Before the arrival of the Romans, the southern area of Italy was populated with large settlements of Greeks and Greek culture was deeply rooted in the area, so much so that the Romans came to call these Greek-settled areas as ‘Magna Graecia’ – Great Greece. The white letters depicted on the vessel’s read P. I. E and urges the beholder to drink. It could be a reference to a shortened inscription that was popular on Roman cups: PIE ZESES. This inscription originated from a Greek phrase ΠΙΕ ΖΗCHC, from πίνειv (pinein – to drink) and ζην (zin – to live). The whole phrase would thus mean, ‘drink, may you live!’. The inscription on the vessel is written with the roman alphabet, but the meanings refers to an typically greek expression, reflecting the gradual romanisation in the southern italian.


Weight 105 g
Dimensions L 8 x H 10 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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