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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Classical Bronzes : Roman Bronze Hasp for a Chest
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Roman Bronze Hasp for a Chest - CK.0171
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 1 st Century AD to 4 th Century AD
Dimensions: 3.125" (7.9cm) high x 1" (2.5cm) wide
Collection: Classical
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
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While today, valuables are kept secure in bank vaults, during the Roman era, it was incumbent upon the individual household to protect their own riches. For this purpose, an entire retinue of chests, boxes, and caskets once existed. Primary among them in importance, was the arca or household safe. This heavy chest would have contained money and other precious items such as jewelry, glassware, and rare and exotic oils, perfumes, and unguents. Occasionally chained to the floor, this safe was typically kept inside the tablinum or master’s office, where the head of the household conducted business and received guests. Other types of containers are also known, including the capsa which was typically used by school boys for transporting books. In cases when important books or scrolls were contained within, a capsa would have been fitted with a lock and key. A pyxis was a small jewelry casket which may have also contained anything else small and valuable such as toiletries, coins, or keys. As with most household items, the chest themselves would have been fabricated in a variety of materials, some more durable and secure, others more ornamental and decorative, that would have appealed to different tastes and incomes. Very few extant chests remain today, a few bronze chests are known, and some smaller silver boxes also exist as do a few ivory caskets from the late period. Typically, they would have been made of wood and furnished with metal hinges, hasps, and locks that have, however, survived more frequently. This geometric bronze hasp that would have served as part of a locking mechanism for a chest or casket used to hold valuables, giving us a fascinating glimpse into the domestic needs and concerns of wealthy Roman households. - (CK.0171)


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