An exhibition of one of the largest collections of Roman silver treasures, entitled “Silver from the Louvre. Boscoreale Treasure” is on display at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences’ National Archaeological Museum in Sofia until August 23 2015.
The exhibition shows the wealth and the exquisite taste of the Roman aristocrats at the beginning of a new era, the museum said in a media statement.
Boscoreale is in the region of Mount Vesuvius in Italy, close to the famous ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The treasure was hidden in a wine press in the Roman villa della Pisanella buried under the deluge of volcanic ash in 79 CE. The last owner of the silver set was probably a woman named Maxima – a name written on many of the vessels, the statement said.
The Boscoreale treasure was found in the late 19th century when a local owner began to make enclosures of his property.
A room with a mosaic floor, kitchen and stable were discovered after archaeological excavations conducted there.
Subsequently, a villa was unearthed during several archaeological seasons, confirming the hypothesis of a villa rustica covering 1000 sq m with a clearly defined residential sector and farm buildings.
On April 13 1895, silver tableware consisting of 102 items and a leather bag full of coins to the value of 1000 gold aurei were discovered in the wine press of the villa. It is assumed that the objects were intentionally hidden in the storehouse before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE.
The Boscoreale treasure was purchased by Baron Edmond de Rothschild and given by him to the Louvre Museum. Given the number of the items, their weight over 30 kg, their technical quality and aesthetic value, the silver set from Boscoreale is among the most important and most prestigious sets of this period.
The 30 items presented in the “Silver from the Louvre. Boscoreale Treasure” exhibition are part of the set – vessels for eating and drinking, complemented by a pair of gold earrings. The world-famous “Africa” is among them. The exquisite craftsmanship of the finds is impressive and they are a valuable source for the cultural development during the Roman period, the statement said.
The pair of gold earrings inlaid with green glass were owned by a woman who died in villa della Pisanella. Her body was found along with the bodies of two men. The woman held a scarf in front of her mouth in order to protect herself from inhaling the smoke. Unfortunately, there is still no definitive answer to the question whether the woman is Maxima, whose name is inscribed on many of the vessels from the treasure.
According to the hypothesis, it is assumed that the owner of the villa and the entire property is L. Caecilius Iucundus, a banker from Pompeii, who inherited the wealth of the Julio-Claudian dynasty in Campania, and that he was the father of Maxima.