This 1914 Princess Mary Tin is part of our War and Weaponry Collection,
It was Princess Mary's express wish that 'every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front' should have the present. The gifts were devised in October 1914 and intended for distribution to all who were serving overseas or at sea, in time for Christmas 1914.
It was intended to contain one ounce of pipe tobacco, twenty cigarettes, a pipe, a tinder lighter, Christmas card and photograph. However, quite early on, the committee in charge received strong representations that an alternative gift should be made available for non-smokers. It was then agreed that non-smokers should receive a packet of acid tablets, a writing case containing pencil, paper and envelopes together with the Christmas card and photograph of the Princess.
This Athenian Tetradrachm coin is part of our Trade and Economy Collection.
The tetradrachm is an ancient Greek silver coin equivalent to four drachmae. It was in wide circulation from around 510 to around 38 BC.
The Athenian tetradrachm was stamped with the head of the goddess Athena on the obverse. The reverse was stamped with the image of the owl of Athena, the symbol of the Athenian polis, with a sprig of olive and a crescent for the moon. It was known as glaux (γλαύξ, little owl) throughout the ancient world. This gave rise to the proverb 'an owl to Athens', referring to something that was in plentiful supply, like 'coals to Newcastle'. The reverse is featured on the national side of the modern Greek euro coin.
The drachma was the currency unit used in Ancient Greece over several centuries. Some economists have estimated that in the 5th century BC a drachma had a rough value of 37 pounds (as of 2015). Historians say that in the heyday of ancient Greece (the fifth and fourth centuries BC) the daily wage for a skilled worker or a soldier was one drachma.
This tells us that a tetradrachm was worth about four times a skilled worker’s daily wage, and could buy luxuries such as jewelry and horses.
We have this beautifully preserved, complete Roman oil lamp in our Design and Technology collection. It appears to have been recovered from a shipwreck and dates between the first and third centuries AD.
Roman lamps were very simple devices, consisting of an oil chamber and a projecting nozzle. Olive oil, the fuel most often used, was introduced through a filling-hole in the top of the chamber and a wick, normally of linen, was inserted into a wick- hole pierced in the nozzle.
This type of helmet is known as a 'Corinthian helmet' by archaeologists because the goddess Athena is shown wearing it on Corinthian coins from its period of use (7th - 3rd Century BC). This style of helmet was also frequently featured on the decorative vases.
This replica helmet was created based on an original Italo Corinthian style helmet that can be seen in the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford (more detail here). The original has a large hole in the temple, presumably the result of battle. This helmet was created especially for the Museum and Iris Classics Centre at Cheney by Matt Lukes at Fabrica Romanorum. At some of our events, members of the public are able to try this helmet on!
On Wednesday 16th November,Year 12 Classical Civilisation students visited the Ashmolean Museum for a special afternoon workshop and tour put on by the Ashmolean Museum as part of our Museum School program.
When the group arrived, they spent fifteen minutes exploring the sorts of roles and jobs in museums - ranging from archaeologists and curators to events managers and artefact cleaners with outreach officer Clare Corey. They were then able to spend some time in the Aegean World gallery. The students have been studying the fascinating civilisations of the Minoans and Mycenaeans, and were excited to be able to see the many artefacts they had been learning about in lessons.
One of the most exciting new projects we are developing together with the classics centre this year involves the design and creation of a number of murals which will explore possible biographies for some of the many Roman artefacts we have on display at the centre.
Most of the items we have are pieces of much larger objects, and the idea behind these mural trails is to show the story of how some of these items would have been made and used, and eventually broken, and discovered centuries later as fragments. Each trail will consist of three murals which trace these stories; the artefact itself will then appear in small cabinet at the end of the mural trail. The trails will eventually appear all across the school campus, as well as in feeder schools.