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Gallo-Roman hunting beaker

These artful, beautifully designed objects are not only wonderful to look at, they also transfer knowledge. The depictions of spirits, deities and mythical creatures tell us a story. They do not necessarily reflect reality in an objective way, but they do fit into a certain perspective of the world. Art is a way to pass on that worldview from one generation to the next.
  • Date: 150-250
  • Found in : grave in Klemskerke near Ostend, West Flanders, Belgium
  • Collection: Archaeology
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Which special meaning is attached to this hunting beaker?

This beaker is exceptionally large. Could it have been intended for a ritual? The fact that the sides are adorned with moose is quite unique. These animals are usually found in the Baltics and are rarely seen in more southern regions. This could be an important beaker, to be used at a venatio, an orchestrated hunt inside an amphitheatre.

Where does this hunting beaker come from?

These beakers were probably sold by street-traders. Archaeologists will often find them during archaeological excavations. Beaker shards are sometimes uncovered in the waste dumps of ancient settlements. The beakers are mainly found intact inside graves. This particular beaker was also found inside a grave, i.e. in Bredene in 1805. This was an accidental find, as the beaker was discovered by people who were cutting peat.

What can these beakers (in)directly teach us?

As a typical result of the Romanisation of our regions, we saw the introduction of the pottery wheel and the ensuing mass production of pottery. The basic shape of this matte black Rhineland beaker (double truncated cone), however, does not refer to Mediterranean but to Gallic pottery traditions. Therefore, these beakers are an excellent example of the integrated Gallo-Roman culture.

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