Rag-and-bone mans forgotten cup turns out 3 BC PS100,000 treasure

May 28th, 2008 - 2:38 pm ICT by admin  

London, May 28 (ANI): A 2500-year-old gold cup acquired by a rag and bone man in 1930s is expected to rake in 100,000 pounds at an auction in Dorset on June 5.

The cup was given to John Webber by his grandfather, a rag-and-bone man, who acquired it in the 1930s and was kept in a box under its owners bed.

Since his grandfather William Sparks, dealt in brass and copper scrap, John assumed that it was made from those metals until he had the unusual piece valued this year.

The cup is 5.5in (14 cm) high, embossed with two female faces, each wearing a crown formed from snakes.

Metallurgical tests experts from the British Museum identified its likely origins as the Middle East or North Africa between three and four centuries before Christ.

Webber, 70, has no idea how his grandfather came to acquire the cup or what it was doing in Taunton, Somerset, where he had his business before and during the Second World War.

My grandfather was originally a proper rag-and-bone man from Romany stock and lived in a caravan. He formed a scrap metal company in the 1930s and made enough to have his own house built, Times Online quoted Webber, as saying.

My father died in the war and afterwards my grandfather gave me some things shortly before he died. One of the things was the cup, which I remember playing with. I put it in a box and forgot about it.

Then last year I moved house and took it out to have a look and I realised it wasnt bronze or brass, he added.

British Museum experts had advised Webber to have the gold tested to establish its precise make-up.

An analysis of trace elements in a gold sample carried out by Harwell Scientifics, of Didcot, Oxfordshire revealed that the method of manufacture and the composition of the gold were consistent with Achaemenid gold and gold smithing.
The Achaemenid empire, the first of the Persian empires to rule over significant portions of Greater Iran, was wiped out by Alexander the Great in 330BC.

The cup is stunning, just stunning. The heraldic snakes relate to the iconography found in eastern Iran, especially during the early Elamite period, said Jeannine Davis-Kimball, an American expert on the ancient peoples of Central Asia.

The scientific analysis of the cup speaks for itself. Bearing in mind the differing views of the experts it will be fascinating to see what happens on day of auction, said Guy Schwinge, of Dukes auctioneers in Dorchester, Dorset, which is selling the cup. (ANI)

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