18 Finds in The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

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    Opened in 1683, the Ashmolean is the first public museum and has continued to grow and evolve its world class collections.  They have world famous collections ranging from Egyptian mummies, Greek and Sudanese artefacts, Eastern Art collection encompassing ceramics, sculpture, paintings, textiles and prints from the Islamic world, India, South East Asia, China and Japan to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and across time. It is located in the University of Oxford, open from 10am-5pm. Admission is free!

    Here are our 18 Finds in the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, United Kingdom!


1.) Young Dionysius, collection from the Earl of Arundel restored by Giovanni Battista Guelfi 


       One of the Arundel marbles, a collection of carved Ancient Greek sculptures and inscriptions collected by Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel in the early seventeenth century. Throughout the 1600s and 1700s many of the Arundel Marbles displayed in this gallery were ‘improved’ with restorations. The most famous, and criticised, of these restorers was the Italian sculptor Giovanni Battista Guelfi working in the 1720s. As per James Dallaway, an antiquary in the 1800s, “Guelfi ‘misconceived the character and attitude of almost every statue he attempted to make perfect; and ruined greater number of those he was permitted to touch”

2.) Marble statue of Apollo


     It was originally from Rome around AD150-200. It now came from Sir Francis Cook’s Collections. Restored with a bow in his left hand and an arrow in his right. The head is probably ancient although did not originally belong to the body.


3.) Colossal statue of the god Min, From the temple of Min at Koptos, late Predynastic Period (about 3300 BC)


     Reconstructed at its original height of about 4 metres, with the stump of limestone phallus inserted. The face is eroded, but the large ears, a ridged beard and part of a skullcap are preserved. Symbols carved in raised relief on the sash hanging from the girdle include the head of a horned animal on a pole and two lambs shells from the Red Sea. Above is located at the Ancient Egypt Gallery in the Ashmolean Museum.


4.) Artistic Handicrafts in Early Egyptian Period



5.) Pottery lion From the Temple Enclosure, Hierakonpolis, Old Kingdom, probably 6th Dynasty (about 2325-2175 BC)


      This pottery statue depicting a lion seated on a plinth was found with a cache of royal sculpture in the temple enclosure at Hierakonpolis. The lion’s face and paws are modelled with striking realism, while the circular ruff around the animal’s face and its bib-like mane are highly stylised.

       In Egyptian mythology, paired lions often served as the guardians of entrances, and sculpted lions performed the same function in temples. This figure may have had a companion (the excavators found fragments of another pottery lion elsewhere at the site) and the two probably served as guardians within the temple precinct.

From the Temple Enclosure, Hierakonpolis, Old Kingdom, probably 6th Dynasty (about 2325-2175 BC)


6.) Mummy Boy from the cemetery at Hawara, Fayum, Roman (about AD100)


     The boy has no portrait but is wrapped to resemble Osiris, like the contemporary mummies with portraits exhibited nearby. Some gilded studs survive on the linen wrappings. CT scans of the boy, who died before he was two years old, are shown on the nearby screen. Drawings from the scans by Angela Palmer are exhibited opposite.


7.) The Parian Marble

English Translation of what was written on the marble: Since the year in which Simonides of Kos, son of Leoprepes, who invented a system of mnemonics, trained actors and won a prize at Athens, and the statues were put up of Harmodius and Aristogeiton and Amiantus was archon in Athens: 213 years.  (Entry for 477-476 BC)



     The Parian marble is the oldest surviving example of a Greek ‘chronological table’. It was compiled on the island of Paros in 264/3 BC and lists important events going back to 1581/0 BC.

     Early events are mythical and include King Cecrops coming to the Athenian throne in 1581/o BC, Deucalion surviving a flood sent by the gods in 1528/7, the goddess Demeter inventing corn in 1409/8 and the fall of Troy in 1209/8.

     This fragment covers the years 895-355 BC. Entries for this period are more historical. They include famous battles- Marathon in 490, Salamis in 480 and Plateau in 479- and Sophocles’ first victory at a drama festival in 469– and of Socrates is listed at 400 BC but we know from other sources that he actually dies in 399.

     This fragment came to Oxford in 1667. Another piece was lost in London during the Civil War. A third fragment was found on Paros in 1897.


8.) Thracian Burial 


      ‘First they lay out the dead for three days, and after killing all kinds of victims and making lamentation, they feast. After that they do away with the body either by fire or else by burial in the earth.’ — Herodotus, The Histories 5:8


9.) A Sculpture of Zeus




10. The First Europeans


      The first people who lived in Europe were not the same species as the current Europeans. The first direct ancestors, Homo sapiens, probably first entered Europe only about 40,000 years ago. Before that there had been sporadic occupation by different earlier hominins (archaic humans) dating back to about 1.8 million years ago. All of these early species of humans are now extinct. The early occupation of Europe is controversial and is complicated by a scarcity of sites and fossils, and the difficulty of dating both.


11.) Greek marble inscription, originally set up on the Acropolis of Athens, about 378-376 BC


     This inscription records a pledge of friendship between the Athenian people and Strato, king of the Phoenician city of Sidon (in present day Lebanon). A wealthy trading port, Sidon was then part of the Persian Empire. Renowned for his love of luxury, Strato is said to have brought flute players ad dancing girls from all over Greece to perform at his banquets.


12.) Apoxyomenos (scraper). From Trastevere in Rome, first century AD


      The tall, wiry athlete cleans off the oil and dirt from his body after exercise with a metal scraper (strigil). The marble statue copies a bronze by the famous and prolific sculptor Lysippos of Sikyon (mid-later fourth century BC), who introduced taller and leaner proportions for his athletic statues.


13.) Boar. From Rome (known since 1556)


       The seated boar was probably made for a Roman garden, and was most likely based on a Hellenistic statue. It has had a wide popular reception in Europe in marble and bronze copies. Snout, ears, talent hooves are modern. Oldest cast in the cast gallery (recorded in Queen’s college in 1782, acquired by the Ashmolean in 1845)


14.) Emperor Augustus. From Villa of Livia at Prima Porta, near Rome, c.20 BC


      Augustus raises his right arm in the gesture of a general addressing his troops. The military commander’s cloak and armour were the most distinctive of all Roman power costumes. The breastplate carries an elaborate allegory of the return of the standards lost to the Parthians in 19 BC. The marble statue was once brightly painted.


15.) Reclining youth, ‘Kladeos’, A 51 (Olympia Museum) 



16.) The Buddha 


Gandhara, about AD 200. In a classic standing pose, the Buddha raises his right hand in the fear-dispelling gesture; his left hand would have held the folds of his monk’s robe. The finely carved head and the modelling of the robe show strong Greco-Roman influences.


17.) Robe (zebun) worn by T.E. Lawrence in Saudi Arabia in 1916

Robe (Zebun)- white silk with gold and silver thread, Ring- probably Near East, early 20th century, gold and white sapphire, Sandals- probably Near East, early 20th century leather

      Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935), also known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, was an undergraduate at Jesus College, Oxford. He started his career in the Middle East as an archaeologist, before becoming an intelligence official after the outbreak of the First World War. In 1916 he acted as a liaison officer during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks (1916-1918)

      A strong supporter of the Arab cause, Lawrence’s hopes were disappointed when England and France’s decisions on the fate of the ex-Ottoman territories annulled any possibility of self-government. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, mostly written while he was a fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, is his account of this period.

18.) Kashmir Shawls


      Woven from the fleece of a Himalayan mountain goat, Kashmir shawls were famous for their lightness, softness and warmth. Early examples from the 17th century had a plain ground with end borders featuring floral or flower-vase motifs. Another famous motif was but a, an abstract leaf pattern with its tip bent over, later known in the West as ‘Paisley’. By 1800 Kashmir- or ‘cashmere’- shawls had become a high fashion item in Europe.



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