Late Antique Metal Vessels in the Carpathian Basin

by 
Tivadar Vida
Price 
6 000 Ft
ISBN 
978 963 9911 81 9
Published 
2016

The magnificent gold and silver vessels that reached the Barbarian elites of the Migration period either as diplomatic gifts or as war booty, as part of annual subsidies or through trade, attest to the many forms of cultural exchanges between the late antique civilisation of the Mediterranean and the tribal kingdoms emerging on its fringes. These resplendent silver and gold vessels were prized possessions of elite households, whose display enhanced the splendour of community feasts and ceremonies. As expensive diplomatic gifs, precious metal vessels played an important role in maintaining and cementing amicable relations and alliances between the late antique states and the Barbarian kingdoms. The elegant gold and silver vessels bore witness to the prosperity and “good life” of the late antique aristocracy, while their graceful form and delicate ornamentation were designed to reflect the erudition and cultural values of their owners. These masterpieces of late antique art retained their role as status symbols in their new cultural milieu too, and they were sometimes circulated as part of the gift exchanges between Barbarian elites or between a Barbarian king and his nobles. The more humble copperalloy vessels used in daily life can usually be associated with the middle classes and reflect the appeal of the late antique aristocracy’s lifestyle to a broader circle as well as the desire to emulate their table customs and to acquire at least copies of their tableware. Late antique and early Byzantine metal vessels were mediums of social display not only during their owners’ lifetimes, but also after their death through the deposition of these impressive items in burials.

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