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20 North Main St (also enter on 224 Benefit Street) Providence, RI 02903

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Art & Design

Unknown artist, Roman
Funerary wreath, 4th century CE
Gold
Length: 26 cm (10 1/4 inches) (right)
Museum Appropriation Fund 32.007

On View

Roman

Funerary wreath

Unknown artist, Roman
Funerary wreath, 4th century CE
Gold
Length: 26 cm (10 1/4 inches) (right)
Museum Appropriation Fund 32.007

Wreaths held an important place in the classical world. They were awarded as prizes to victors at athletic contests or festivals, offered to the gods in temples and sanctuaries, and given to the dead at funerals. Gold wreaths were most often grave gifts, as was this one, and there are many extremely elaborate examples representing known varieties of trees in precious metal. This funerary wreath appears to be a naturalistic representation of an olive branch, perhaps connecting it with athletics, as olive wreaths were placed on the heads of victors at the ancient Olympic games. Although gold wreaths as funerary gifts were more common in fourth-century BCE Greece, the construction of this wreath points to the late Roman period.


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