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The silver cup from Apulum: some remarks

January 23, 2016

One of the few silver objects from Roman times ever discovered in the territory of Transylvania, the famous silver cup from Apulum had an adventurous and tragic fate.

Discovered in August, 1867 in the territory of the Colonia Aurelia Apulensis as part of a larger, silver  treasure (with at least three other pieces) the cup was the only one which survived the building of the railway. It was published by Karl Gooss in 1870 who made the first sketches and drawings of the object. His publication was totally ignored till 2015.

The cup entered in the collection of the Transylvanian Museum from Cluj (Kolozsvár) in 1868. Later in the end of the 19th century, the cup was sent to the RGZM from Mainz, where a copy was made. The artefact was returned and was part of the Roman collection of the museum from Cluj.

It was described and photographed by Mihail Macrea who published a short description of the collection in 1937. This was the last time, when the object was still owned by the Transylvanian Museum.

In 1959, D. Tudor already cites the object as a missing one. That means, the silver cup was lost during the II World War, when the collection of the museum suffered serious changes and a large part of it was transported (there and back again) between Budapest and Cluj (Kolozsvár). The Hungarian National Museum, which hosted a large part of the transferred material confirmed, that the silver cup is not there. This could mean, that 1) it is still somewhere in the deposits of the Museum from Cluj 2) was stolen and now it is part of a private collection 3) was lost, melted during the War

The copy of the silver cup from Mainz was published and the iconography of it was analysed by E. Künzl in 1980. The author didn’t know the article of Gooss, the editio princeps.

Recently, the report of K. Gooss – and the findspot of the silver cup –  was contextualized in an article.

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The last photo of the original silver cup from 1937

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