Ornate Roman plate digitally reconstructed from fragments

Fragments of a plate buried in Scotland 1,500 years ago have been used to illustrate the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by elite members of Roman society.

Ornate Roman plate digitally reconstructed from fragments
A digital reconstruction of the ornate Roman plate based on two original fragments unearthed near Haddington in East Lothian, Scotland, in 1919[ Credit: National Museum of Scotland]
Archaeologists were able to create this digital reconstruction of the ornate silver plate based upon two chunks of the original rim, which unearthed along with an enormous collection of Roman hacksilver in East Lothian in 1919.

The 'highly decorative' silver fragments and the 70cm diameter of the reconstructed plate indicate that this was dinnerware 'fit for senators and the Roman elite', researchers said.

The pieces of the plate were part of the biggest collection of Roman hacksilver ever found, discovered at Traprain Law, a hill near Haddington, in 1919.

A research team has used laser scanning to make what they believe is an accurate, full-size reconstruction of the dish, based on the curve and appearance of the surviving fragments.

Ornate Roman plate digitally reconstructed from fragments
Ornate Roman plate digitally reconstructed from fragments
Fragments of the original silver Roman plate discovered in Scotland was used to help create the digital reconstruction of the artefact in its original form [Credit: National Museum of Scotland]
With a 70cm diameter, it is believed to be one of the largest known dishes from across the whole of the Roman Empire, and would have been a 'high status object', experts said.

The reconstruction for National Museums Scotland was undertaken as part of the Glenmorangie Research Project, supporting the study and understanding of Early Medieval Scotland.

Alice Blackwell, Glenmorangie research officer at National Museums Scotland, said: 'The silver fragments are highly decorative and combined with what we now know about the plate’s size, this plate could only have been a high status object, fit for senators and the Roman elite.

'We are thrilled that the digital reconstruction has provided us with such a unique insight into the contents of this treasure hoard.

Ornate Roman plate digitally reconstructed from fragments
Detail of the digital reconstruction of the plate found among the Traprain Law hoard - the biggest collection of Roman hacksilver ever discovered[Credit: National Museum of Scotland]
'Now, thanks to the support of Glenmorangie, we can build on our knowledge of Scotland’s early history, the murky transition from the Roman to Early Medieval periods and the enduring importance of silver in Scotland’s past.'

Silver items in the Traprain Law hoard had been cut and folded into parcels, either to be exchanged or melted down and recycled into new objects.

It is unlikely the contents of the haul were ever used in Scotland, as experts believe they were cut up before they arrived.

The hoard is believed to have been buried in the middle of the 5th century AD, at a time when Roman silver was an important indicator of status and wealth.

Ornate Roman plate digitally reconstructed from fragments
Part of the Traprain Law hoard, whcih is on display in the Early People gallery at National Museums of Scotland [Credit: National Museum of Scotland]
Hamish Torrie, a spokesman for the Glenmorangie Company, said: 'This is yet another exciting reveal from National Museums Scotland and follows on from other discoveries they have made during the course of our partnership.

'It’s great to see modern technology being used to re-evaluate the world famous Traprain hoard. We are proud to be associated with this exciting research into early Scotland.'

Author: Kerry Mcdermott | Source: Daily Mail [February 05, 2013]

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