Ancient Luxury and the Roman Silver Treasure from Berthouville features more than 170 objects from the ancient Roman Empire, including an opulent collection of silver objects known as the Berthouville Treasure. This cache—accidentally discovered by a French farmer in the early 19th century and recently conserved by the J. Paul Getty Museum—is displayed alongside a selection of precious gemstones, glass, jewelry, and other Roman luxury items from the royal collections of the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Regarded among the finest surviving works of ancient Roman silver, these unique objects offer insight into the role that luxury arts played in ancient society. The techniques employed by ancient craftsmen in designing and creating these treasures reveal fascinating aspects of Roman technology, culture, and religion.
Highlights of the exhibition include the “Patera of Rennes,” a shallow libation bowl that remains one of the few surviving examples of Roman gold tableware; the “Shield of Scipio,” a silver-and-gold plate depicting the Homeric hero Achilles, extracted from the Rhone River in 1656; and a bejeweled cameo of the Emperor Trajan, intricately carved from multilayered sardonyx.
The MFAH is the final U.S. stop for these significant treasures before they return to France in 2017. The restoration of the Berthouville Treasure paves the way for additional research and study of these important antiquities.
The accompanying exhibition catalogue is available through the MFA Shop (713.639.7360) and the Museum's Hirsch Library (713.639.7325).
In-Gallery Extra: Audio Tour
Enhance your experience with the optional audio tour.