In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object, venerated or worshipped for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents. In several traditions, including the ancient religions of Egypt and Rome, modern Hinduism, cult images in a temple may undergo a daily routine of being washed and having food left for them. Processions outside the temple on special feast days are a feature. Religious images cover a wider range of all types of images made with a religious purpose, subject, or connection. In many contexts "cult image" means the most important image in a temple, kept in an inner space, as opposed to what may be many other images decorating the temple; the term idol is synonymous with cult image. In cultures where idolatry is not viewed negatively, the word idol is not seen as pejorative, such as in Indian English; the use of images in the Ancient Near East seems to have been similar to that of the ancient Egyptian religion, about which we are the best-informed.
Temples housed a cult image, there were large numbers of other images. The ancient Hebrew religion was or became an exception, rejecting cult images despite developing monotheism. In the art of Amarna Aten is represented only as the sun-disk, with rays emanating from it, sometimes ending in hands. Cult images were a common presence in ancient Egypt, still are in modern-day Kemetism; the term is confined to the small images in gold, that lived in the naos in the inner sanctuary of Egyptian temples dedicated to that god. These images showed the god in their sacred barque or boat. Only the priests were allowed access to the inner sanctuary. There was a huge range of smaller images, many kept in the homes of ordinary people; the large stone images around the exteriors of temples were representations of the pharaoh as himself or "as" a deity, many other images gave deities the features of the current royal family. All ancient Greek temples and Roman temples contained a cult image in the cella. Access to the cella varied, but apart from the priests, at the least some of the general worshippers could access the cella some of the time, though sacrifices to the deity were made on altars outside in the temple precinct.
Some cult images were easy to see, were what we would call major tourist attractions. The image took the form of a statue of the deity roughly life-size, but in some cases many times life-size, in marble or bronze, or in the specially prestigious form of a Chryselephantine statue using ivory plaques for the visible parts of the body and gold for the clothes, around a wooden framework; the most famous Greek cult images were of this type, including the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Phidias's Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon in Athens, both colossal statues now lost. Fragments of two chryselephantine statues from Delphi have been excavated; the acrolith was this time a cost-saving one with a wooden body. A xoanon was a primitive and symbolic wooden image comparable to the Hindu lingam. Many of the Greek statues well-known from Roman marble copies were temple cult images, which in some cases, such as the Apollo Barberini, can be credibly identified. A few actual originals survive, for example the bronze Piraeus Athena.
In Greek and Roman mythology, a "palladium" was an image of great antiquity on which the safety of a city was said to depend the wooden one that Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy and, taken to Rome by Aeneas. Members of Abrahamic religions identify cult images as idols and their worship as idolatry - the worship of hollow forms; the Book of Isaiah gave classic expression to the paradox inherent in the worship of cult images: Their land is full of idols. One could avoid such a degrading paradox by adopting the early Christian idea that miraculous icons were not made by human hands, acheiropoietoi. Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians make an exception for the veneration of images of saints - they distinguish such veneration from adoration or latria; the disparaging of man-made works as idols can provide a useful pejorative in religious discussions. The word idol entered Middle English in the 13th century from Old French idole adapted in Ecclesiastical Latin from the Greek eidolon a diminutive of eidos.
Plato and the Platonists employed the Greek word eidos to signify perfect immutable "forms". One can, of course, regard such an eidos as having a divine origin. Christian images that are venerated are called icons. Christians who venerate icons make an emphatic distinction between "veneration" and "worship"; the introduction of venerable images in Christianity was controversial for centuries, in Eastern Orthodoxy the controversy lingered until it re-erupted in the Byzantine Iconoclasm of the 8th and 9th centuries. Religious monumental sculpture remained foreign to Orthodoxy. In the West, resistance to idolatry delayed the introduction of sculpted images for centuries until the time of Charlemagne, whose placing of a life-size crucifix in the Palatine Chapel, Aachen was a dec
Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of fine intergrowths of quartz and moganite. These are both silica minerals, but they differ in that quartz has a trigonal crystal structure, while moganite is monoclinic. Chalcedony's standard chemical structure is SiO2. Chalcedony has a waxy luster, may be semitransparent or translucent, it can assume a wide range of colors, but those most seen are white to gray, grayish-blue or a shade of brown ranging from pale to nearly black. The color of chalcedony sold commercially is enhanced by dyeing or heating; the name chalcedony comes from the Latin chalcedonius. The name appears in Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia as a term for a translucid kind of Jaspis; the name is derived from the town Chalcedon in Asia Minor. The Greek word khalkedon appears in the Book of Revelation, it is a hapax legomenon found nowhere else, so it is hard to tell whether the precious gem mentioned in the Bible is the same mineral known by this name today. Chalcedony occurs in a wide range of varieties.
Many semi-precious gemstones are in fact forms of chalcedony. The more notable varieties of chalcedony are as follows: Agate is a variety of chalcedony characterized by either transparency or color patterns, such as multi-colored curved or angular banding. Opaque varieties are sometimes referred to as jasper. Fire agate shows iridescent phenomena on a brown background. Landscape agate is chalcedony with a number of different mineral impurities making the stone resemble landscapes. Aventurine is a form of quartz, characterised by its translucency and the presence of platy mineral inclusions that give a shimmering or glistening effect termed aventurescence. Chrome-bearing fuchsite is the classic inclusion, gives a silvery green or blue sheen. Oranges and browns are attributed to goethite. Carnelian is a clear-to-translucent reddish-brown variety of chalcedony, its hue may vary to an intense almost-black coloration. Similar to carnelian is sard, brown rather than red. Chrysoprase is a green variety of chalcedony, colored by nickel oxide.
Blue-colored chalcedony is sometimes referred to as "blue chrysoprase" if the color is sufficiently rich, though it derives its color from the presence of copper and is unrelated to nickel-bearing chrysoprase. Heliotrope is a green variety of chalcedony, containing red inclusions of iron oxide that resemble drops of blood, giving heliotrope its alternative name of bloodstone. In a similar variety, the spots are yellow instead. Moss agate contains green filament-like inclusions, giving it the superficial appearance of moss or blue cheese. There is tree agate, similar to moss agate except it is solid white with green filaments whereas moss agate has a transparent background, so the "moss" appears in 3D, it is not a true form of agate. Chrome Chalcedony is a green variety of chalcedony, colored by chromium compounds, it is known as "Mtorolite" found in Zimbabwe and "Chiquitanita" found in Bolivia. Onyx is a variant of agate with white banding. Agate with brown, orange and white banding is known as sardonyx.
As early as the Bronze Age chalcedony was in use in the Mediterranean region. People living along the Central Asian trade routes used various forms of chalcedony, including carnelian, to carve intaglios, ring bezels, beads that show strong Greco-Roman influence. Fine examples of first century objects made from chalcedony Kushan, were found in recent years at Tillya-tepe in north-western Afghanistan. Hot wax would not stick to it so it was used to make seal impressions; the term chalcedony is derived from the name of the ancient Greek town Chalkedon in Asia Minor, in modern English spelled Chalcedon, today the Kadıköy district of Istanbul. According to tradition, at least three varieties of chalcedony were used in the Jewish High Priest's Breastplate.. The Breastplate included jasper and sardonyx, there is some debate as to whether other agates were used. In the 19th century, Idar-Oberstein, became the world's largest chalcedony processing center, working on agates. Most of these agates were in particular Brazil.
The agate carving industry around Idar and Oberstein was driven by local deposits that were mined in the 15th century. Several factors contributed to the re-emergence of Idar-Oberstein as agate center of the world: ships brought agate nodules back as ballast, thus providing cheap transport. In addition, cheap labor and a superior knowledge of chemistry allowed them to dye the agates in any color with processes that were kept secret; each mill in Idar-Oberstein had five grindstones. These were of red sandstone, obtained from Zweibrücken.
Dionysus is the god of the grape-harvest and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth. Wine played an important role in Greek culture, the cult of Dionysus was the main religious focus for its unrestrained consumption, his worship became established in the seventh century BC. He may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenaean Greeks. His origins are uncertain, his cults took many forms. In some cults, he arrives as an Asiatic foreigner; some scholars believe that Dionysus is a syncretism of a local Greek nature deity and a more powerful god from Thrace or Phrygia such as Sabazios or Zalmoxis. He is a god of epiphany, "the god that comes", his "foreignness" as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults, he is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming important over time, included in some lists of the twelve Olympians, as the last of their number, the only god born from a mortal mother.
His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre. He is known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans and the frenzy he induces is bakkheia, his thyrsus, sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey, is both a beneficent wand and a weapon used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents. As Eleutherios, his wine and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful; those who partake of his mysteries are empowered by the god himself. The cult of Dionysus is a "cult of the souls", he is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god. Dionysus is depicted in myth as the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, although in the Orphic tradition, he was identified as the son of Zeus and Persephone. In the Eleusinian Mysteries he was identified with the son of Demeter; the dio- element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus. The earliest attested form of the name is Mycenaean Greek, di-wo-nu-so, written in Linear B syllabic script for /Diwonūsoio/.
This is attested on two tablets, found at Mycenaean Pylos and dated to the 12th or 13th century BC, but at the time, there could be no certainty on whether this was indeed a theonym. But the 1989–90 Greek-Swedish Excavations at Kastelli Hill, unearthed, inter alia, four artefacts bearing Linear B inscriptions. Variants include Dionūsos and Diōnūsos in Boeotia. A Dio- prefix is found in other names, such as that of the Dioscures, may derive from Dios, the genitive of the name of Zeus; the second element -nūsos is associated with Mount Nysa, the birthplace of the god in Greek mythology, where he was nursed by nymphs, but according to Pherecydes of Syros, nũsa was an archaic word for "tree". Nonnus, in his Dionysiaca, writes that the name Dionysus means "Zeus-limp" and that Hermes named the new born Dionysus this, "because Zeus while he carried his burden lifted one foot with a limp from the weight of his thigh, nysos in Syracusan language means limping". In his note to these lines, W. H. D. Rouse writes "It need hardly be said that these etymologies are wrong".
The Suda, a Byzantine encyclopedia based on classical sources, states that Dionysus was so named "from accomplishing for each of those who live the wild life. Or from providing everything for those who live the wild life."R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin of the name; the cult of Dionysus was associated with trees the fig tree, some of his bynames exhibit this, such as Endendros "he in the tree" or Dendritēs, "he of the tree". Peters suggests the original meaning as "he who runs among the trees", or that of a "runner in the woods". Janda accepts the etymology but proposes the more cosmological interpretation of "he who impels the tree"; this interpretation explains how Nysa could have been re-interpreted from a meaning of "tree" to the name of a mountain: the axis mundi of Indo-European mythology is represented both as a world-tree and as a world-mountain. The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male and robed, he holds a fennel staff, known as a thyrsus. Images show him as a beardless, naked or half-naked androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or "man-womanish".
In its developed form, his central cult imagery shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of the known and civilized. His procession is made up of bearded satyrs with erect penises; the god himself is drawn in a chariot by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. This procession is presumed to be the cult model for the followers of his Dionysian Mysteries. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and he thus symbolizes the chaotic and unexpected
A talisman is an object that someone believes holds magical properties that bring good luck to the possessor or protect the possessor from evil or harm. According to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a magical order active in the United Kingdom during the late 19th and early 20th century, a talisman is "a magical figure charged with the force which it is intended to represent." The Order cautions that one must take great care in creating a talisman and ensure that the physical item's symbolism represents the intended purpose of the talisman. The Order notes that the forces depicted by the item "should be in exact harmony with those you wish to attract, the more exact the symbolism, the easier it is to attract the force." The word talisman comes from French talisman, via Arabic tilism, which comes from the ancient Greek telesma, meaning "completion, religious rite, payment" from the verb teleō, "I complete, perform a rite". Traditional magical schools advise that a talisman should be created by the person who plans to use it.
It is said that the person who makes the talisman must be well-versed in the symbolism of elemental and planetary forces. For example, several known medieval talismans featured geomantic signs and symbols in relation to planets symbols, which are frequently used in geomantic divination and Alchemy. Other features with magical associations—such as colors, symbology and Kabbalistic figures—can be integrated into the creation of a talisman in addition to the chosen planetary or elemental symbolism. However, these must be used in harmony with the elemental or planetary force chosen so as to amplify the intended power of the talisman, it is possible to add a personal touch to the talisman by incorporating a verse, inscription, or pattern, of particular meaning to the maker. These inscriptions can be sigils, bible verses, or sonnets, but they too must be in harmony with the talisman's original purpose. Lea Olsan writes of the use of amulets and talismans as prescribed by medical practitioners in the medieval period.
She notes that the use of such charms and prayers was "rarely a treatment of choice" because such treatments could not be properly justified in the realm of Galen medical teachings. Their use, was considered acceptable. For example, one well-known medieval physician, writes of the necessity of using a talisman to ensure conception of a child, he describes the process of producing this kind of talisman as "...writing words, some uninterruptible, some biblical, on a parchment to be hung around the neck of the man or woman during intercourse." Zulfiqar, the magical sword of Ali, was depicted on Ottoman flags as used by the Janissary cavalry, in the 16th and 17th centuries. This version of the complete prayer of Zulfiqar is frequently invoked in talismans of the Qizilbash warriors: A record of Live like Ali, die like Hussein as part of a longer talismanic inscription was published by Tewfik Canaan in The Decipherment of Persian and sometimes Arabic Talismans; the Seal of Solomon known as the interlaced triangle, is another ancient talisman and amulet, used in several religions.
Reputed to be the emblem by which King Solomon ruled the Genii, it could not have originated with him. Its use has been traced in different cultures long before the Jewish Dispensation; as a talisman it was believed to be all-powerful, the ideal symbol of the absolute, was worn for protection against all fatalities and trouble, to protect its wearer from all evil. In its constitution, the triangle with its apex upwards represents good, with the inverted triangle, evil; the triangle with its apex up was typical of figures that occur in several religions. In India and Japan, its three angles represent Brahma and Shiva, the Creator and Destroyer or Re-generator. In ancient Egypt, it represented the deities Osiris and Horus. In Christianity, it represented the Holy Trinity; as a whole it stands for the elements of spirit, composed of the three virtues. The triangle with its apex downward symbolized the element of water, typified the material world, or the three enemies of the soul: the world, the flesh, the Devil, the cardinal sins, envy and malice.
Therefore, the two triangles interlaced represent the victory of spirit over matter. The early cultures that contributed to Western civilization believed that the Seal of Solomon was an all-powerful talisman and amulet when used with either a Cross of Tau, the Hebrew Yodh, or the Egyptian Crux Ansata in the center; this object, a Talismanic Scroll dating from the 11th-century was discovered in Egypt and produced in the Fatimid Islamic Caliphate. It resides in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art along with a number of other Medieval Islamic amulets and talismans that were donated to the museum by the Abemayor family in 1978. About 9 inches by 3 inches in size, the miniature paper scroll contains a combination of prayers and Quranic verses, was created for placement in an amulet box; this block print bears Kufic, the oldest calligraphic Arabic script, as well as Solomon's Seal, a star with six points, identified in a large number of Islamic art pieces of the period. The swastika, one of the oldest and most widespread talismans known, can be traced to the Stone Age, has been found incised on stone implements of this era.
It can be found in all parts of the Old and New Worlds, on the most prehistoric ruins and remnants. In spite of the assertion by some writers t
Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text, it encompasses the religion and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism encompasses a wide body of texts, theological positions, forms of organization; the Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, supplemental oral tradition represented by texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world. Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah; this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period.
Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin and unalterable, that they should be followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism promoting a more traditionalist interpretation of Judaism's requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Special courts enforced Jewish law. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the rabbis and scholars who interpret them.
The history of Judaism spans more than 3,000 years. Judaism has its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Judaism is considered one of the oldest monotheistic religions; the Hebrews and Israelites were referred to as "Jews" in books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title "Children of Israel". Judaism's texts and values influenced Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and the Baha'i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law. Hebraism was just as important a factor in the ancient era development of Western civilization as Hellenism, Judaism, as the background of Christianity, has shaped Western ideals and morality since Early Christianity. Jews are an ethnoreligious group including those born Jewish, in addition to converts to Judaism. In 2015, the world Jewish population was estimated at about 14.3 million, or 0.2% of the total world population. About 43% of all Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe, other minority groups spread throughout Latin America, Asia and Australia.
Unlike other ancient Near Eastern gods, the Hebrew God is portrayed as solitary. Judaism thus begins with ethical monotheism: the belief that God is one and is concerned with the actions of mankind. According to the Tanakh, God promised Abraham to make of his offspring a great nation. Many generations he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God, he commanded the Jewish people to love one another. These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments and laws that constitute this covenant, the substance of Judaism. Thus, although there is an esoteric tradition in Judaism, Rabbinic scholar Max Kadushin has characterized normative Judaism as "normal mysticism", because it involves everyday personal experiences of God through ways or modes that are common to all Jews; this is played out through the observance of the Halakha and given verbal expression in the Birkat Ha-Mizvot, the short blessings that are spoken every time a positive commandment is to be fulfilled.
The ordinary, everyday things and occurrences we have, constitute occasions for the experience of God. Such things as one's daily sustenance, the day itself, are felt as manifestations of God's loving-kindness, calling for the Berakhot. Kedushah, nothing else than the imitation of God, is concerned with daily conduct, with being gracious and merciful, with keeping oneself from defilement by idolatry and the shedding of blood; the Birkat Ha-Mitzwot evokes the consciousness of holiness at a rabbinic rite, but the objects employed in the majority of these rites are non-holy and of general character, while the several holy objects are non-theurgic. And not only do ordinary things and occurrences bring with them the experience of God. Everything that happens to a man evokes that exp
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, historical, or scientific importance. Many public museums make these items available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary; the largest museums are located in major cities throughout the world, while thousands of local museums exist in smaller cities and rural areas. Museums have varying aims, ranging from serving researchers and specialists to serving the general public; the goal of serving researchers is shifting to serving the general public. There are many types of museums, including art museums, natural history museums, science museums, war museums, children's museums. Amongst the world's largest and most visited museums are the Louvre in Paris, the National Museum of China in Beijing, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. the British Museum and National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and Vatican Museums in Vatican City.
According to The World Museum Community, there are more than 55,000 museums in 202 countries. The English "museum" comes from the Latin word, is pluralized as "museums", it is from the Ancient Greek Μουσεῖον, which denotes a place or temple dedicated to the Muses, hence a building set apart for study and the arts the Musaeum for philosophy and research at Alexandria by Ptolemy I Soter about 280 BC. The purpose of modern museums is to collect, preserve and display items of artistic, cultural, or scientific significance for the education of the public. From a visitor or community perspective, the purpose can depend on one's point of view. A trip to a local history museum or large city art museum can be an entertaining and enlightening way to spend the day. To city leaders, a healthy museum community can be seen as a gauge of the economic health of a city, a way to increase the sophistication of its inhabitants. To a museum professional, a museum might be seen as a way to educate the public about the museum's mission, such as civil rights or environmentalism.
Museums are, above all, storehouses of knowledge. In 1829, James Smithson's bequest, that would fund the Smithsonian Institution, stated he wanted to establish an institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge."Museums of natural history in the late 19th century exemplified the Victorian desire for consumption and for order. Gathering all examples of each classification of a field of knowledge for research and for display was the purpose; as American colleges grew in the 19th century, they developed their own natural history collections for the use of their students. By the last quarter of the 19th century, the scientific research in the universities was shifting toward biological research on a cellular level, cutting edge research moved from museums to university laboratories. While many large museums, such as the Smithsonian Institution, are still respected as research centers, research is no longer a main purpose of most museums. While there is an ongoing debate about the purposes of interpretation of a museum's collection, there has been a consistent mission to protect and preserve artifacts for future generations.
Much care and expense is invested in preservation efforts to retard decomposition in aging documents, artifacts and buildings. All museums display objects; as historian Steven Conn writes, "To see the thing itself, with one's own eyes and in a public place, surrounded by other people having some version of the same experience can be enchanting."Museum purposes vary from institution to institution. Some favor education over conservation, or vice versa. For example, in the 1970s, the Canada Science and Technology Museum favored education over preservation of their objects, they displayed objects as well as their functions. One exhibit featured a historic printing press that a staff member used for visitors to create museum memorabilia; some seek to reach a wide audience, such as a national or state museum, while some museums have specific audiences, like the LDS Church History Museum or local history organizations. Speaking, museums collect objects of significance that comply with their mission statement for conservation and display.
Although most museums do not allow physical contact with the associated artifacts, there are some that are interactive and encourage a more hands-on approach. In 2009, Hampton Court Palace, palace of Henry VIII, opened the council room to the general public to create an interactive environment for visitors. Rather than allowing visitors to handle 500-year-old objects, the museum created replicas, as well as replica costumes; the daily activities, historic clothing, temperature changes immerse the visitor in a slice of what Tudor life may have been. This section lists the 20 most visited museums in 2015 as compiled by AECOM and the Themed Entertainment Association's annual report on the world's most visited attractions. For 2016 figures see List of most visited museums; the cities of London and Washington, D. C. contain more of the 20 most visited museums in the world than any others, with six museums and four museums, respectively. Early museums began as the private collections of wealthy individuals, families or institutions of art and rare or curious natural objects and artifacts.
These were displayed in so-called wonder rooms or cabinets of curiosities. One of the oldest museums known is Ennigaldi-Nanna's museum, built by Princess Ennigaldi at the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire; the site dates from c. 530 BCE, contained artifacts from earlier M
The Thetford Hoard is a hoard of Romano-British metalwork found by Arthur and Greta Brooks at Gallows Hill, near Thetford in Norfolk, England, in November 1979, now in the British Museum. Dating from the mid- to late-4th century AD, this hoard is a collection of thirty-three silver spoons and three silver strainers, twenty-two gold finger rings, four gold bracelets, four necklace pendants, five gold chain necklaces and two pairs of necklace-clasps, a gold amulet designed as a pendant, an unmounted engraved gem, four beads, a gold belt-buckle decorated with a dancing satyr. A small cylindrical lidded box made from shale belonged to the hoard; the find was made under unfortunate circumstances. The finder was metal-detecting without the knowledge and permission of the owners of the site, cleared for building work, made his discovery late on a November day, in failing light, he recovered the material in great haste overlooking some small items, because he knew he had no legal right to search in that area, he did not, as the law requires, report his discovery to the authorities.
Instead, he unwisely attempted to sell the objects. By the time archaeologists learned of the find several months the findspot had been built over, making proper archaeological investigation impossible, it was not possible to question the finder about the circumstances, because by the time the material arrived at the British Museum for study, he was terminally ill, he died about a month in July 1980. Persistent rumours that the treasure included coins have never been confirmed or convincingly rejected, but if there were no coins, it is quite that the group as we see it now is incomplete; the full account of the circumstances of the discovery is related in the standard catalogue. This lack of information makes it difficult to speculate on the nature of the hoard and the purpose of its concealment in antiquity; the silver tableware in the hoard comprises 33 spoons, of two types. Seventeen of the spoons are cochlearia, with long tapered handles, the other sixteen are the larger ligulae or cigni, with bowls about the size of a modern dessert spoon and short, coiled handles ending in birds' heads.
Many of the spoons bear pagan inscriptions to Faunus, a minor Roman god who had many characteristics in common with the Greek Pan. There is no overtly Christian symbolism in the hoard, though one spoon is decorated with the figure of a fish, which can be an oblique reference to Christianity. Bacchic iconography is obvious in the group, was traditional in Roman culture, but in the late Roman period, many Bacchic motifs were adopted and given new interpretations by Christians. At this date, the end of the 4th century AD, there was no obstacle to placing unequivocally Christian symbols and inscriptions on personal possessions, so that their absence here is noteworthy; the and exclusively, pagan iconography remains one of the most interesting and unusual aspects of the assemblage. The dedications, such as DEIFAVNIAVSECI are engraved in the bowls of both the cigni; the epithets or by-names applied to Faunus in the inscriptions have been identified as containing Celtic linguistic elements, supporting the supposition that any cult of Faunus which they represent was Romano-British, not one that consisted of devotees from elsewhere in the Roman Empire.
The inscriptions were discussed in the published catalogue by the late Kenneth Jackson. It has been suggested that it is unlikely that these items were intended to be used for ordinary domestic dining, that their eventual deposition may be interpreted as a ritual act rather than a practical one. However, since both pagan and Christian inscriptions are found on Roman jewellery and domestic tableware, as the actual motivation for the concealment of the Thetford material itself is unknown, this view is open to debate; the unusual composition of the group of gold objects is somewhat better evidence of a non-domestic background than the decoration and inscriptions of the silver assemblage. The suspicion that the hoard is incomplete undermines any detailed analysis of these matters, but if the gold and silver objects were connected in any way with pagan cult practices, a possibility the anti-pagan Theodosian edicts of the 390s would have provided good practical reasons for the concealment of the material from the authorities.
The gold belt-buckle is an unusual find, would have been worn by a man. Its decoration, of a satyr carrying a pedum and a bunch of grapes, accords with other hints at Bacchic imagery throughout the assemblage, in both the jewellery and the tableware. For example, the running feline animal on spoon identified as a panther or leopard, referred to as the'panther spoon', is a reference to Bacchus, accompanied by a panther or leopard, or by a tiger. In fact, the animal on Thetford spoon is a tiger: the rendering of the stripes as short curved lines mistaken for spots, was common in Roman art; the gold finger-rings could have been worn by either men or women, though the bracelets, necklaces with pendants were chiefly fe