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Vasa Murrina again

  • D. B. Harden

A reassessment of the problem of Vasa Murrina based upon a study of a fluorspar vase in A. Loewental's possession was recently published in this Journal (XXXIX, 1949, 31 ff.) by Loewental and myself. The late C. E. N. Bromehead very kindly added a ‘Mineralogical Note’, afterwards elaborated in Antiquity (XXVI, 1952, 65 ff.), supporting his view that the true Murrines were fluorspar. But even by 1952 Bromehead was unable to cite any actual fluorspar vase of Roman date whose present whereabouts is known, other than the two which Loewental and I had published. He did, however, refer to Corsi's mention (1845) of ‘two antique fluorspar vases found in Rome, one in the Museo Kircheriano… another in the possession of Signor Gillet-Laumont’. This Kircheriano specimen is also mentioned by Middleton as late as 1892. Bromehead also cites independent statements by Egglestone and Sheppard that ‘Blue John’ vases had been found at Pompeii and Herculaneum respectively.

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1 Westropp, H. M., Manual of Precious Stones and Antique Gems (London, 1874), 128, citing Corsi, F., Delle Pietre antiche Trattato (3rd ed., Rome, 1845). Most if not all of the Roman material from the Museo Kircheriano is now in the Terme Museum.

2 Middleton, J. H., Remains of Ancient Rome (London, 1892), 1, 23.

3 Ashmolean Museum no. 1953, 782. Ashmolean Museum Report 1953, pl. III, c. The block is reproduced here by kind permission of the Visitors.

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The Journal of Roman Studies
  • ISSN: 0075-4358
  • EISSN: 1753-528X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-roman-studies
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