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A Mediterranean Byzantine Empire Marble Basin or Mortar
10th-12th Century

The Byzantine civilisation, combining both Roman and Greek culture flourished from the 5th century onwards in the East of what had once been the mighty Roman Empire, stretching from Spain to Syria. This culturally diverse people dominated the East Mediterranean, continuing the Roman Empire as Byzantium and despite the loss of the west to barbarian invasion and settlement still remained culturally influential in Western Europe.

Produced during a period of artistic revival and great creativity towards the end of this Empire, this ancient marble vessel shows considerable wear to the interior, consistent with and indicating it has almost certainly served at some time as a mortar, although doubtless in addition to many other uses in its long existence. The combination of heavy overall wear, a deep patina, (particularly towards the base), adhering surface deposits and general degradation belies its antiquity, the condition overall bearing evidence of long periods of use, exposure and burial. Of unquestionably ancient origin, the carved exterior decoration of the basin appears to have seen some localised re-carving in certain areas, probably carried out during the 18th/19th century, but possibly earlier, in order to re-establish and emphasise features either particularly worn or damaged.

Dimensions (Approximate)

Height: 18cm,  Width: 35cm