Inspiring replicas at the Ashmolean

We are nearing the end of the Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions project and were looking for an audience we hadn’t yet worked with. We noticed that there is very little opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to explore Latin inscriptions. So we partnered with Oxfordshire Adult Learning ALD (Adults with learning Disabilities) provided by Abingdon & Witney College to try out a new approach with a small group of people with various learning difficulties and disabilities.

We wanted to look at how words and objects work together in Latin inscriptions, and give participants a chance to explore the objects as fully as possible. Many of our inscriptions (including moulds and stamps) were used by Romans to make marks and almost all of them would have been easier to touch in ancient times. To try out this kind of relationship with objects, we decided to use replicas.

Scanning the altar

We commissioned 10 high quality replicas from three brilliant makers to get a variety of kinds of objects to touch, draw, and experiment with. Graham Taylor made pottery replicas by hand (along with their moulds and stamps) that let us explore how Romans could mass produce things with beautiful decoration, as well as a set of pan pipes that we could play for ourselves. Tanya Bentham made real bronze copies of a ring and a votive tablet, letting us see (and try on) the personal dimensions of Roman religion. Finally, we teamed up with ThinkSee3D to 3D print copies of some of our favourite objects, including the altar of Lucius Marcius Pacatus and the tombstone of Alexander the beef seller.

Stamps for making a terra sigillata bowl

Participants came up with some brilliant interpretations of the ancient objects, and we want to share a few with you.

This painting reconstructs the altar of Lucius Marcius Pacatus, taking inspiration from another snake fighting scene that archaeologists have reconstructed. It brings to life the bright ancient colours the altar might have originally had:

Reconstructing the colours on the altar


Our Hercules dedication plaque inspired some brilliant personal messages, like this one cut out of newspaper:

A tabula ansata collage, with the artist’s own phrase.


And this intricate textured version using string:

A textured tabula ansata collage with a personal message


This brilliant market stall takes inspiration from Alexander the beef seller, to imagine selling pottery like the replicas we had been handling:

A market stall selling Roman pots

We had a great time and we are delighted with the art that everyone has produced. Congratulations!

You can book a close encounter with Roman objects now by contacting the Ashmolean Education department. The new replicas are available for schools and other booked groups.



Share this post:Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Pin on Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *