collage art, Christof Maupin art, amphora

Articles of interest from our sister blog

As many of our regular readers know, I started a “sister blog” a few months ago, dealing with my exploration of the intersection of art from the past and art from the present, and specifically how this impacts my own work as an artist. As so much of my work is impacted by art from the distant past, I thought it worth sharing some of my posts from the other blog site. Comments welcome:

Some Thoughts on the Persistence of Classical Imagery

A few thoughts on the art of printmaking, views of antiquity and modern prints

The art of enameling, ancient and modern

A case study in reinterpreting an old technique: English slip decorated earthenwares and modern counterparts (including my own)

Broken Things



This Week’s Featured Object: 15th Century Thai Glazed Pottery Jar

This week’s featured object does not come from the Mediterranean, Classical or Near Eastern worlds but from Southeast Asia. It represents an important phase in Asian history in which China retreated from the world stage, leaving smaller kingdoms to fill the resulting gap in international trade.

In a Blog article earlier this month  ( we explored recently unearthed connections between the Mediterranean world and East Asia, focusing on portable objects found many thousands of miles away from their points of origin. This week’s antiquity ties in well with that theme.

To put this object in context, it is worth reviewing the early years of China’s Ming Dynasty. The Ming were of true Chinese ancestry, unlike the previous Yuan Dynasty of Mongol origin. The third Ming Emperor, Zhu Di, asserted Chinese authority, from the Mongol regions to the north, the Tibetan Plateau to the east, Korea and Japan to the west and Southeast Asia. He was also responsible for assembling the vast naval flotilla of ocean-going ships that would sail under the Imperial Eunuch Zheng He, reaching points as far away as India, Yemen and the Middle East and even the east coast of Africa. Zheng He, despite being raised in the Imperial Court, was born Muslim in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, a background that made him uniquely qualified to lead the famed “Seven Voyages.”

Despite great interest aroused by overseas expeditions, the Ming were facing difficulties with their expansionist policies. Attempts to subdue Japan and Vietnam proved costly and unsuccessful, while extravagance at home, including construction of the new Capital at Beijing and its Forbidden City, drained the state coffers. Conservative Confucian elements succeeded in reversing Ming internationalist policies, even banning construction of seagoing ships. Zheng He’s travel chronicles were officially condemned and forgotten. Export of Chinese products, especially much valued porcelain, dried up.

Stepping into the resulting market void were newly resurgent states, including the Kingdom of Ayudhya (also spelled Ayutthaya) in what is now Thailand. Conveniently for the Kingdom, the neighboring Khmer Empire (centered in what is now Cambodia) collapsed just as the last of Zheng He’s Seven Voyages was underway. Ayudhya and its predecessor Kingdom of Sukhothai, which became its vassal, were fortunate to be located in a region with converging river systems that provided the clay needed for pottery production and the transport system for exporting finished ceramics. With the Ming Chinese largely out of the trade picture, Thai ceramic artists produced great quantities of high-end celadon wares, underglaze wares, including blue floral underglaze wares to imitate Ming porcelains, and simple stonewares with thick glazes of brown or green. This week’s featured object belongs to this last category. These wares were produced at hundreds of known kiln sites around Sawankalok in Thailand’s north-central region. This has resulted in some confusion, with the place names, pottery types and phases becoming interchangeable, to include Sawankalok, Sukhothai and Sri Satchanalai (another location with a concentration of kilns). All of these ceramic types were widely exported, with finds not only throughout Southeast Asia but as far away as the Philippines to the west, Indonesia to the south and even the Islamic world. Our example was found as a burial offering in the Philippines in the early 1960s.


To learn more about this antiquity or to acquire it, visit our online stores –




Cypriot antiquities, Cyprus antiquities

Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford: A Photo Essay

Visitors with a special interest in antiquities will be stunned when visiting the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University, not only because of the great quality of ancient art and artifacts on view but also because of the key role that many of these objects have played in the development of fields such as archaeology and art history.

The Ashmolean in its present form was created in 1908 through the merger of two very old Oxford collections: the University Art Collection, begun in the 1620s, and the original gift of antiquities and curiosities from Elias Ashmole in 1692. Gifts of art and artifacts continued until by the early 19th Century the galleries had become a must see for visitors to Oxford. The superb neo-Classical building was completed in 1845 and has expanded since. Later, through the work of such distinguished scholars as Sir Arthur Evans, antiquities obtained through modern excavations poured into the collections. Today the Museum houses extraordinary Near Eastern, Egyptian, Aegean, Cypriot, Greek, Etruscan, Roman and related antiquities, well worth the train ride from London or elsewhere.

The galleries are not arranged in a strict chronological fashion but by geographic region. This allows a somewhat freer flow for the visitor. The spaces are open and easy to navigate, without the crush of dense crowds one often gets at The British Museum. Objects are thoughtfully displayed and quite well lit, though the bright lights sometimes create too much glare on the cases for successful photography. The staff is helpful, facilities of all types are easily available, the cafe is excellent and the gift shop carries a good selection of antiquities related books, catalogs, etc.

All images and caption presented here must be credited to: Clio Ancient Art and Antiquities. Enjoy.

Iran, Iron Age, Near Eastern antiquities, Iranian antiquities, Ashmolean Museum

Painted terracotta tiles from the Iron Age ceremonial building called “The Painted Chamber” at Baba Jan, Iran, dated to about 800-700 BC.

Assyrian art, Assyrian sculpture, Ashurnasirpal, Nimrud, Ashmolean Museum

Assyrian winged genius from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal (883-859 BC) at Nimrud, Irag. He holds a pale of water and a pine cone to be used in a manner similar to “holy water” in modern churches. Acquired through excavation by A.H. Layard in the early 19th Century.

Egyptian antiquities, Pre-Dynastic Egypt, Egyptian artifacts, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Large ceremonial flint knives and other tools from the Hierakonopolis Deposit, an important group of Pre-Dynastic and Early Dynastic Egyptian objects.

Khasekhem, 2ns Dynasty, Egyptian antiquities, Egyptian art, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Statue of Khasekhem, last king of Egypt’s 2nd Dynasty, died 2,686 BC. In this pose he wears the White Crown of Upper Egypt. One of his sons Djoser, would be responsible for building the famed Step Pyramid at Saqqara.

6th Dynasty, Egyptian art, Egyptian antiquities, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

A large pottery lion from the Temple Enclosure at Hierakonopolis, Egypt, dating to the 6th Dynasty, about 2,325 to 2,175 BC). Appearing at first glance to be made of stone, this magnificent and technically accomplished work is, in fact, hollow pottery, resting on a plinth. Fragments of another lion were found at the site and the two may have served as guardians of the Temple precinct.

Sobek, Fayum, Amenemhat III, Egyptian sculpture, Egyptian art, Egyptian antiquities, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Limestone statue fragment of Sobek, the crocodile headed chief god of the Egyptian Fayum region. It comes from the scant remains of the funerary temple of Amenemhat III, of the 12th Dynasty, 19th Century BC. The temple was attached to his pyramid and was known as the Labyrinth to classical authors such as Herodotus, who declared it surpassed even the Great Pyramid as a wonder of antiquity

Aspelta, Napata, Kawa, Nubian antiquities, Egyptian art, Kingdom of Kush, Ashmolean Museum

Sandstone wall of King Aspelta from Temple T at Kawa, circa 600-580 BC. The Kingdom of Kush, to the south of Egypt in what is now Sudan, adopted Egyptian art, religion and funerary practices wholesale, adorning their capital cities and royal tombs in the Egyptian style. Here, King Aspelta offers Ma’at (Truth) to the ram headed god Amun-Re.

Ram of Amun, Kawa, Napatan Period, King Taharqa, Egyptian art, Asmolean Museum

Granite statue of the god Amun in the form of a ram protecting King Taharqa. Dating from about 680 BC, this is also from Temple T at Kawa and was uncovered during excavations in 1931. It has a twin in The British Museum.

Abydos, Middle Kingdom, Egyptian art, Egyptian antiquities, Ashmolean Museum

Painted Egyptian limestone grave stela of Reniseneb making an offering of food to his father Redysankh, while a scribe sits at right. From Abydos. Middle Kingdom.

Egyptian funerary stela, Egyptian art, Egyptian antiquities, Ashmolean Museum

Egyptian painted limestone funerary stela of Ankhreni, steward of the granary, with his brother and sister in law. Abydos, Middle Kingdom

Egyptian amulets, Egyptian antiquities, Egyptian art, Egyptian faience, Ashmolean Museum

Egyptian funerary amulets were placed on the body and in the mummy wrappings, representing funerary deities or parts of the body requiring special magical protection. Examples shown here are made from colored faience, hematite, carnelian and gold foil, and date mainly to the New Kingdom and Late Dynastic Period.

Egyptian shabtis, Egyptian ushabtis, Egyptian antiquities, Ashmolean Museum, Clio Ancient Art Antiquities

A stunning display of Egyptian funerary figures, servants for the afterlife known as shabtis or ushabtis. These examples date to the New Kingdom and Late Period and are mainly made from faience or glazed composition

Sir Arthur Evan, Knossos, Crete, Minoan, Arshmolean Museum, Clio Ancient Art

A display of superb Minoan pottery from the palace complex at Knossos, Crete, Circa 1,700 BC. Excavated by Sir Arthur Evans.

Knossos, Crete, Arthur Evans, Minoan, Ashmolean Museum, Clio Ancient Art Antiquities

A display of superb Minoan storage pottery from the palace complex at Knossos, Crete, Circa 1,700 BC. Excavated by Sir Arthur Evans.

Cypriot pottery, Cypriot antiquities, Cyprus antiquities, Ashmolean Museum, Clio Ancient Art

A staggering display of Cypriot pottery, mainly from the Iron Age but also running through the Classical, Hellenistic and early Roman periods.

Apollo, Classical sculpture, Cypriot antiquities, Ashmolean Museum

Hellenistic statue of a nude youth found on Cyprus and made from local limestone. The hairstyle and other features suggest this may represent the god Apollo. Circa 300-100 BC

Greek antiquities, ancient Greek art, Ashmolean Museum, Clio Ancient Art Antiquities

A superb Greek red figure pottery pyxis (jewelry box) of the 5th Century BC from Athens, accompanied by Greek gold jewelry of the Classical and Hellenistic periods.

Roman antiquities, Roman artifacts, Roman pottery, Clio Ancient Art Antiquities, Ashmolean Museum

Excellent display of Roman ceramic vessels, tiles and oil lamps, spanning several centuries, from the 1st Century BC through the 3rd Century AD, and three continents, including Europe, North Africa and western Asia

Roman art, Roman antiquities, Clio Ancient Art Antiquities, Ashmolean Museum

Cinerary box of a Roman woman named Cornelia Thalia, about AD 50-75. This finely made marble box from Rome is in the shape of a shrine and includes Latin text dedicated to the departed spirits of the deceased woman, whose cremated remains were kept inside.

Roman art, Roman Jewelry, Roman antiquities, Clio Ancient Art, Ashmolean Museum

Part of a display or Roman Jewelry, including objects of gold, silver, bronze and bronze that has been tinned, gilt, silvered or enameled, as well as glass, precious and semiprecious stones, jet and other materials. The types include earrings, necklaces, rings and hairpins, with a great geographic distribution, from what is now Syria and the Levant in the east to England in the west, and spanning 500 years.

Roman jewelry, Roman art, Roman antiquities, Clio Ancient Art, Ashmolean Museum

Parts of a display or Roman Jewelry in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK. Included are objects of gold, silver, bronze and bronze that has been tinned, gilt, silvered or enameled, as well as glass, precious and semiprecious stones, jet and other materials. The types include brooches, earrings, necklaces and clasps, with a great geographic distribution, from what is now Syria and the Levant in the east to England in the west, and spanning 500 years.

To learn more about the Ashmolean Museum, visit their website at:

Megarian Ware: Transition and Continuity from the Hellenistic to Roman Worlds

Two closely related pottery bowls on our website typify a type of pottery marking the all important transition from the later Hellenistic period to the time of Roman dominance, even before the formal establishment of Rome’s empire, of the broader Mediterranean world. Both bowls are examples of what is generally termed Megarian Ware, a type of pottery produced mainly in Greece and Asia Minor but also with imitative production centers in Italy. Megarian Ware, the name of which comes from 19th Century finds of this pottery near Megara in Greece, offers important insights into the transition from the ubiquitous red figure “painted” pottery of the classical era to the red slip pottery that would come to dominate the Mediterranean world for centuries to come.

Both are thin walled bowls and made from fine hard pink clay. One is covered in a deep orange-red slip, the other in a chocolate brown slip. But the most important distinguishing characteristic of both, and of most Megarian Ware, is that they are mold-made, resulting in an all-over pattern of rosettes, laurel leaves and repeating geometric shapes in high relief.

Megarian Wares were distributed over a very wide swath of the Mediterranean and beyond. An example in the British Museum was probably made in Cyprus but was found at Salamanca in Spain:

The different color slips used on these bowls is an important factor in understanding the role of pottery in the Hellenistic to Roman Imperial transition. Establishment of a relatively uniform Hellenistic material culture across a great geographic expanse, from South Italy and Sicily in the west to Syria and Mesopotamia in the east, led to the decline of the classical red figure pottery tradition. Potters turned to the mass production technique of stamping out vessels in molds. Some of these featured complex mythological scenes, such as this example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: Dark brown and black slips on Megarian vessels offered a smooth transition from the attractive black slip wares of the later Classical era. A great deal of black to dark brown slip Megarian Ware pottery has been found in Republic level excavations in Rome and its colonies. The orange-red slip examples eventually came to dominate the market and provided the immediate inspiration, at least in color and fabric, for the fine, hard Roman red wares developed in Gaul and Northern Italy in the late Republic. These would “spin off” countless imitations at workshops all over the Mediterranean world, finally concluding with the red ware of Roman North Africa in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Centuries.

Here is an example formerly with our Trust for Ancient Art, gifted in 2010 to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, produced in Asia Minor in the 2nd half of the 1st Century AD:

ImageAnd here is a 3rd Century example currently on our website of later North African red ware:

Clio Ancient Oil Lamps Roman

Ancient Ceramic Oil Lamps at Clio Ancient Art

Ancient Roman pottery oil lamps offer antiquities collectors the opportunity to specialize in a very specific area of collecting.

The range of different types, ranging from black glazed Hellenistic-inspired types in time of the Republic through the North African and Syro-Palestinian types with Christian-inspired decoration during Byzantine transition, span a period of some 5t00 years.

The range of ceramic fabrics, decorative schemes, shape variations and maker’s marks seem virtually limitless, and local lamp production took place in every region of the Roman Empire.

Some ancient oil lamp collectors specialize in the so-called “Factory Lamps” from Gaul and Italy in the 1st Century CE, others in the profusion of low-fired unglazed pottery lamps from the greater Levantine region, including, Samarian, Jewish, Roman-imitative and early Christian types, as well as Byzantine and early Islamic examples. Still other collectors focus on the long history of decorated red slip ceramic lamps of the North African provinces, especially Tunisia.

Oil lamps are of great value to archaeology, as well. With their well documented maker’s marks (and copies of these, much like cheap knock-offs or counterfeits of major brands today) and styles, lamps recovered in context offer valuable dating evidence. They also provide many clues to the movement of goods and people over time.

Prior to the introduction of modern laws governing the export of antiquities from most Mediterranean countries, that is, prior to the 1960s and ’70s, great numbers of ancient Roman lamps were collected. While a great many have since been donated to public art museums (this author has donated several examples to museum collections), there is still great availability. Fine quality examples, often with meaningful decoration on their discoi, are still undervalued in relation to other areas of the art market.

Clio Ancient Art offers many examples for sale at reasonable prices, including examples of all the types mentioned above.

Here is a link to our “Ancient Oil Lamps” page:

A few examples are shown below, with links to those pages.





Clio Ancient Cypriot Ceramics

Ancient Cypriot Ceramics: A Brief Review

The Island of Cyprus, still divided after 4 decades between the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot state — a member of the EU– and the Turkish Cypriot state, and very much in the news lately because of its economic woes, has a profoundly long and complex history. Once the crossroads of the eastern Mediterranean, it has seen immigrants and invaders come and go for many thousands of years. Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Turks, British colonials and others have all left their mark on its landscape and culture.

One very tangible component of the Island’s surviving ancient material culture is pottery. Almost indestructible and abundant, ceramics have been key to aiding more modern excavators in reconstructing the Island’s complex ancient history. Prior to the signing of modern international conventions restricting the export of Cypriot antiquities, a great deal of Cypriot material was removed from the Island by amateurs, explorers, museums, financially motivated looters and by archaeologists. Much of this material is available on the legitimate antiquities art market today.

Our website offers a good selection of material, from the Bronze Age through the Hellenistic era. Our selection is by no means comprehensive, as the range of ancient Cypriot pottery types, fabrics, designs, etc. is enormous and just as complex as the Island’s history. Below please find a few images with links to those items on our website.