A Sample of Our Sold Antiquities from 2016

The images below represent a good sample of the many ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, early Islamic and other Mediterranean and related antiquities and ancient coins sold by Clio Ancient Art during 2016. Some of our regular customers reading this blog entry might recognize pieces they now own. As always we have many more items available in our online stores:

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClioAncientArt

eBay: http://www.ebay.com/usr/clioantiquities

And don’t forget our Amazon book store, with many excellent and hard to find antiquities related titles: www.amazon.com/shops/ClioAncientArt



Object of the week: A large Roman knee brooch


This week’s featured object highlights the nature of travel and mobility, as well as the adoption of regional clothing styles, in the Roman world. Among the countless varieties of Roman fibulae – brooches for securing clothing at the shoulders – there were some easily recognizable general categories, including plate brooches, bow brooches, disc brooches, etc. The earliest and by far the most common category of distinctly Roman brooches was the bow brooch. This simple clothespin-like form evolved into many shapes and styles, some of which were purely local. Our object for this week is a type of bow brooch that developed over time across a wide area, from the Roman Danube frontier in central Europe to England.

The earliest knee brooches, so named because of the dramatic bend in their bow, appear in the Roman province of Pannonia, what is today the Danube region of Hungary and Croatia, in the early 2nd Century AD. These have a very “industrial” feel, with strong, squared edges and right angles, with only simple geometric decoration either cast or incised just above the catch plate. Later, in the second half of the 2nd Century, these develop a semicircular head plate which is often decorated with rouletting along the edge. In the Danubian region finds of knee brooches seem to be exclusively associated with military contexts, such as the forts along the upper Danube.


Upon arriving in Britain, presumably with military units reassigned from the Danube frontier, the knee brooch developed further. But instead of being found in strictly military contexts, Romano-British knee brooches, such as ours, are found as temple and shrine offerings, in civilian settings, and at military sites. Ours is very well preserved and shows the decorated semicircular head plate type in its fully developed form. The knee brooch continued as a common type in Roman Britain until about the beginning of the 4th Century, before being replaced by the crossbow type.

Readers interested in acquiring this object may find it on our Etsy site here – https://www.etsy.com/listing/261523289/a-large-roman-bronze-knee-brooch-150-250?ref=shop_home_active_90

Or on our eBay store here – http://www.ebay.com/itm/131920055095

Object of the Week: A Superb Roman Bronze Brooch

One group of artifacts making up a large proportion of small bronze objects available on the legitimate antiquities market is the fibula or brooch —  an ornate pin, usually made of copper alloy but sometimes of precious metals or even iron, used to fasten and decorate clothing. Prior to the use of buttons becoming common with the introduction of new clothing types in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, fibulae made in their many thousands were an absolute necessity for many social classes, and both sexes, in Roman society.

Our “Object of the Week” this week is a small, inexpensive but finely crafted and well preserved Roman bronze fibula. This is a variant on”Kraftig-profilierte” type brooch, dating to the 1st Century AD. Despite measuring little more than one inch long, this lovely piece displays a great range of line and form in its cast bronze body.

Clio Antiquities

Fibulae already had a long history throughout what would become the Roman Empire. Many early Roman fibulae, including this week’s object, reflect prior local traditions and styles. While the great majority of Roman brooches were simple bronze sprung or hinged pins on a roughly bow shaped body with minimal cast, punched or filed decoration, some examples utilized more elaborate decorative techniques to enhance their otherwise simple form. A brooch’s owner might have an ordinary example enhanced to look “upmarket” with a layer of tin (to make it look like silver) or of silver or even gold or the addition of colored enamels or niello (black silver sulphide) in recessed areas. Fibula types evolved over time, of course, and varied greatly by region within the Roman Empire and beyond, meaning the range of types is truly enormous, including those dating from well before and well after the Roman period. The scope for collecting is great, particularly since the majority of types are quite affordable.

To purchase this item, click either of the URLs below –



There are many excellent resources for this specific area of antiquities collecting available in print. Here a couple we recommend:

  • Justine Bayley & Sarnia Butcher, Roman Brooches in Britain: A Technological and Typological Study Based on the Richborough Collection, The Society of Antiquaries of London, 2004


  • Richard Hattatt, A Visual Catalogue of Richard Hattat’s Ancient Brooches, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2007

Clio Ancient Art

Many new antiquities added to our Etsy and eBay stores

It has been a very busy Summer here at Clio Ancient Art, with plenty of domestic and international sales, sales to a U.S. museum, consulting work and arranging a major gift of ancient ceramics from a client to a Midwestern U.S. university.

With Summer now winding down, we are looking ahead to the holiday sales season by adding a good selection of antiquities to our existing stock. New items include Roman and Byzantine pottery oil lamps, Roman and Byzantine glass beads and amulets and Roman brooches. We’ll be adding many ancient coins and antiquities to our stores again in about a month, so stay tuned.
Visit our stores here –
Find us on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/usr/clioantiquities
Find us on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClioAncientArt
Find our Blog on WordPress: https://clioantiquities.wordpress.com/


Customers. Friends and Fans:

We have updated the Clio Ancient Art with some very fine Egyptian, Hellenistic and Roman antiquities in faience, bronze, glass and ceramic, as well as Roman, Byzantine and medieval coins. The Egyptian and Hellenistic items in particular have an exceptional provenance. Here they are with links to each item –

Thank you for visiting our site. We can also be found on Etsy, Ebay and on Shopify via our Facebook page.

Best wishes,

Chris M. Maupin

Clio Ancient Art and Antiquities

Egyptian antiquities

Antiquities in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: A Brief Review

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are among those North American art museums fortunate to display good quality collections of ancient Mediterranean and related antiquities. The Museums’ antiquities collection is housed in the Legion of Honor, with its spectacular views over the Golden Gate, the City of San Francisco itself, and across to Marin County. The collection consists of approximately 1,000 objects ranging in date from Bronze Age to Byzantine, represent nearly every type of material and cover a wide geographic reach from Egypt and the Near East to Western Europe.

For those living in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area or Northern California generally, there are several options for viewing ancient art. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose offers a vast, if rather poorly displayed collection of Egyptian antiquities. UC Berkeley’s Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology offers a modest but very high quality selection of Egyptian and Classical antiquities. And now the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento maintains a good quality collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and other Mediterranean antiquities, thanks in large part to donations and other efforts by the Chris Maupin Trust for Ancient Art. Still, on the whole, the Legions’ antiquities collections are the most balanced and largest on display in Northern California. Most of this collection was acquired in the early 20th Century, especially through the gifts of M. H. de Young, founder of the de Young Museum, and Alma de Bretville Spreckels, wife of sugar magnate Adolph Spreckels. She had lived in Paris just prior to the outbreak of the First World War and met many acclaimed artists, including Auguste Rodin (many of his works are in the Legion today). With her husband’s backing, Spreckels determined to create a new museum for San Francisco, modeled on the Palais de le Legion d’Honneur in Paris. In addition to her own gifts, the new Museum, opened in 1924, received art from the French government and the Queen of Romania and the Queen of Greece. Many smaller gifts have been made since then.

Despite offering a very good selection of ancient art, particularly Egyptian and Roman antiquities of all sorts and Greek ceramics, the relatively small portion of the collection on view at any time is today relegated to display cases along the walls of a broad corridor in the lower levels of the Legion; a corridor that also contains access to the Legion’s theater and restrooms, bookstore, porcelain and other collections. This arrangement denies the visitor the opportunity to view works from anything more than one direction. The rather extensive collection of Roman glass is also hindered by the fact that nearly all of it is highly iridescent. This may have been due to the collecting preferences of Alma Spreckels or the Queen of Greece, from whom she acquired most of the Museum’s Roman glass. In any case, this selection prevents the visitor from seeing Roman glass as it would have appeared in its original condition.

In its favor, the Museum does have a support group for the antiquities collection, the Ancient Arts Council. The group sponsors lectures by art historians, classicists and archaeologists on a regular basis, offers travel discounts and private tours of the collection, and more. Here is a link to the Council’s website: http://www.ancientartcouncil.org/membership

The following images, all taken by the author, offer some insight into the quality of the Legion’s collections. For many more antiquities images from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco online database go to: http://art.famsf.org/search?f[0]=field_art_image_available%3A1&f[1]=field_art_department%3A718

Egyptian antiquities

Egyptian shabtis of the New Kingdom and Late Dynastic Periods

Egyptian Antiquities

Mummy mask and pectoral from the Fayum. Ptolemaic Period, 332-30 BC

Egyptian antiquities

Section of mummy cartonnage, 21st Dynasty, 1069-845 BC

Egyptian antiquities

Winged scarab in polychrome faience. Late Dynastic Period.

Luristan antiquities

Cheek pieces in the form of winged sphinxes. Bronze. Luristan, western Iran, early 1st Millennium BC

Cypriot antiquities

Cypriot bi-chrome footed pottery goblet, 725-600 BC

Cypriot antiquities

Pair of Cypriot lustrous red pottery spindle bottles, 1400-1230 BC

Greek South Italian Antiquities

Greek South Italian (Apulian) black glazed guttus, 4th Century BC

Greek antiquities

Attic red figure lekythos (left) and alabastron (right), Athens, first half of the 5th Century BC

Hellenistic gold jewelry, Roman gold jewelry

A Greek Hellenistic gold and carnelian necklace (outer) and a Roman 3rd Century AD gold, sapphire and garnet necklace (inner)

Roman glass, ancient glass

Roman glass flasks, early 1st Century AD, the central flask marbled, the others highly iridescent.

Roman antiquities

Roman marble sarcophagus, Italy, 3rd Century AD

Byzantine mosaics, Byzantine antiquities

Early Byzantine mosaic panel featuring a peacock. Western Asia Minor, 5th or 6th Century AD

The Museum of London: Roman Antiquities

The Museum of London offers, in my view, one of the most complete and satisfying museum experiences anywhere. Tracing the development of the greater London area from prehistory right through today, it offers not only extraordinary artifacts but art, interactive exhibits, dioramas, reconstructions and more to help the visitor understand London in any era. Indeed, I would recommend a visit to the Museum of London for any London visitor who wants to understand something of the development, character and geography of the City during their stay.

The Roman exhibits are remarkable, in that they make a very thorough attempt at reconstructing at least a glimpse of daily life in Roman London over its 300+ year history. This brief photo essay offers just a sample of exhibits I found to be of special interest during a 2012 visit.

ImageInscribed tombstone of a 3rd Century AD Roman centurion, found during reconstruction of St Martin’s Church, Ludgate Hill, in 1669. His clothing and the staff in his hand offer clues to his rank. The inscription reads: “To the spirits of the departed and to Vivius Marcianus of the 2nd Legion Augusta, Januaria Martina, his most devoted wife, set up this memorial.”


These 2 images are from a display of household wares in ceramic and glass, both Romano-British and imported from elsewhere in the Empire. In the lower image are several items, including ceramic oil lamps and parts of glass vessels, decorated with imagery related to gladiators and the arena.


Part of a reconstructed Roman glass maker’s workshop that was excavated in London. Large amounts of recycled glass were broken up for melting down into molten glass, from which new glass vessels and objects were made.


An example of the excellent educational exhibits in the Museum of London. This is an actual section of a Roman mosaic floor, mounted in a display where it can be touched by visitors.


Reconstruction of a finely appointed room in a Roman home in London, based on excavations. The mosaic floor is original.


A display or Roman jewelry, including brooches, rings and bracelets. Most are made of bronze and decorated in various techniques, including enameling, embossing, silvering, tinning or gilding.


The 5 denominations of Roman coinage during the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD


Roman gold coins of the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD, all found in London.


3rd Century AD Roman limestone relief of 4 mother goddesses, found reused as building material in London. These deities may represent a merging of native or local British goddesses with deities from the traditional Roman pantheon.


3rd Century AD limestone sculpture of a male figure and horse representing either Castor or Pollux (the Heavenly Twins), found near the Temple of Mithras in London.


Excavations in 1999 at Spitalfields, London uncovered a Roman cemetery, including this stone sarcophagus containing a decorated lead coffin dating to the 4th Century.


Inside the Spitalfields coffin was the skeleton of a young woman who died in her 20s. Tests revealed she may have come to England from southwestern Europe. Forensic studies resulted in this facial reconstruction.

Visit the Museum of London website at: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/

Visit Clio Ancient Art to see our selection of Roman Antiquities: http://www.clioancientart.com/catalog/c15_p1.html

Roman Bronze Brooches Revisited: Zoomorphic Types

Roman brooch fibula

In a blog post dated August 20 of last year we reviewed some examples of Roman bronze fibulae (brooches), a ubiquitous find both in controlled excavations and by metal detectorists. In this post we’d like to elaborate on the topic, focusing on zoomorphic brooch types.

The example pictured above, a horse brooch dating to the 1st to 3rd Centuries AD, while not unknown, is a very uncommon type. It has been modeled in the round rather than as a flat plate with pin on the reverse. For more details, it may be viewed here: http://www.clioancientart.com/catalog/i475.html

Far more typical of Roman brooches depicting mammals is the example above of a so-called “horse and rider” brooch. As is frequently the case, the schematically rendered rider has broken away but the Celtic style horse is well defined and shows a strong sense of movement. This type, dating to the 3rd or 4th Century, may have been closely associated with the Roman army. The bronze has been tinned to resemble silver. For more details on this example, go here: http://www.clioancientart.com/catalog/i474.html

In addition to mammals (rabbits or hares, dogs, horses, etc.), birds were a popular source of inspiration for Roman craftsmen involved in making brooches. The superb example above, depicting a duck in resting posture with wings folded back, illustrates the use of enamel decoration on Roman brooches. In this case, the wings have a piriform cell containing blue enamel surrounded by red with another stretch of blue enamel around that. In addition, the animal itself is depicted in a highly naturalistic way; even the duck’s eye has been indicated with a tiny point of incision. For more on this example, go here: http://www.clioancientart.com/catalog/i489.html

An uncommon type of bird brooch, dating to the 2nd or 3rd Century AD, is illustrated above. This example appears to depict a dove or small water bird. Unusually for zoomorphic brooches, it’s original pin and coil are intact. Unlike many zoomorphic types that were also popular on the European continent, this specific type appears to be unique to Roman Britain. More about this example here: http://www.clioancientart.com/catalog/i476.html

For many more examples of brooches, mainly Roman, of many different types, visit the “Ancient Jewelry and Personal Adornment” section of our website at: http://www.clioancientart.com/catalog/c19_p1.html

All the brooches presented above are individual UK metal detector finds, declared not treasure and legally exported.

For further study, we recommend the following sources:

Roman Brooches in Britain, a Technological and Typological Study Based on the Richborough Collection, The Society of Antiquaries of London, 2004


A Visual Catalogue of Richard Hattat’s Ancient Brooches, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2007