In ancient Rome, both the palm branch and arch were symbolic of victory. The association of the former extends back at least as far as classical Greece, where palm branches were the prize for athletic victory. Triumphal arches were erected by the Romans to honour an individual, or to commemorate a significant event. Indeed, the only arch to survive in Rome from the third century AD (the time period from which this bowl dates) is the Arch of Septimius Severus (203-205): this monument marked a military victory for Rome, namely that over the Parthians. Perhaps the recipient of this vessel was similarly being recognised and rewarded for an achievement.
Rare Roman Terracotta Drinking Bowl
A rare Roman drinking bowl in pale orange terracotta. The sides are decorated with an impressed pattern of repetitive palm branch and arch motifs. The bowl features a chamfered plain rim, and the base is impressed in the centre to produce a short ring foot.
Provenance: Roman colonies of Northern Africa.
Condition: A very short crack extending from the rim consolidated with glue, otherwise Very Fine.