Tags: Museum, Artefact, Greek, Roman

Introduction to the Collection


This collection of archaeological artefacts housed at the East Oxford Community Classics Centre covers a broad range of periods and regions – from Mesolithic stone tools (approximately 10,000 years old) to Medieval and post-Medieval pottery fragments (a few hundred years old). The collection has grown gradually out of generous donations from the public.

Archaeological artefacts can give us a privileged glimpse into many aspects of past life. Through them, we are able to better understand what people were eating, what parts of the world they traded with, where they stored their trinkets, how they did their hair up and even what an ancient Roman knees-up would have been like.

In order to extract this information from the collection, the East Oxford Community Classics Centre launched a project aimed at cataloguing, photographing and publishing all its archaeological artefacts. The stimulus behind this project has been to create a long-term resource that makes the most of the collection's educational potential.

We are happy to see how the project is allowing students and visitors to experience heritage through workshops and artefact handling sessions. The database and photographs are also being incorporated into school syllabi, helping bring history to life. We encourage you to have a browse and hope that you will use this database in your own projects too!

The digital catalogue has been completed and can be downloaded here (n.b. it is 4.5MB) . If you would like to visit, and see the collection, please contact use through the website. We welcome community visitors and school groups, and run regular handling sessions.

Artefact Story Trails

One of the most exciting new projects we are developing at the classics centre this year involves the design and creation of a number of murals which will explore possible biographies for some of the many Roman artefacts we have on display at the centre. 

Most of the items we have are pieces of much larger objects, and the idea behind these mural trails is to show the story of how some of these items would have been made and used, and eventually broken, and discovered centuries later as fragments. Each trail will consist of three murals which trace these stories; the artefact itself will then appear in small cabinet at the end of the mural trail. The trails will eventually appear all across the school campus, as well as in feeder schools. 

We have been working closely with local archaeologists to identify the artefacts in our collection. You can now find a complete database of our items on our website. The following sketches, created by artist Soham De, are first drafts based on six of the items we have. We will work with experts to ensure that the final murals which appear will be as historically accurate as possible in all details. 

Below you can see details of the first six mural trails - please click the links to view the sketches. We welcome feedback, so please email us with any thoughts on

Story trail one: Roman bottle

Scene 1: A Roman worker blows glass near a furnace

Scene 2: A wealthy Roman man pours wine out of the bottle into a cup in a symposium

Scene3: A cat knocks the bottle off a table


Story trail two: amphora handle

Scene 1: A Roman worker from Hispania pours olive oil from a large jar into an amphora

Scene 2: A different worker stacks amphorae into a ship in a Mediterranean port

Scene 3: A wealthy Roman lady in Britannia pours oil from a small glass container onto her skin. The amphora can be seen lying against the wall in a storage room in the background.


Story trail three: Roman pyxis

Scene 1: A Roman worker turns some clay on a potter's wheel

Scene 2: A Roman lady puts some jewellery into the pyxis

Scene 3: A thief steals the jewellery and smashes the pyxis

Story trail four: roof tile

Scene 1: A Roman worker makes hundreds of roof tiles by pressing wet clay into rectangular moulds

Scene 2: A different Roman worker lays tiles on the roof of a fancy villa as a patrician family watch their home being built

Scene 3: The same villa lies in ruins after many decades of use. Roof tiles are spread on the ground.


Story trail five: mosaic tesserae

Scene 1: A Roman worker creates thousands of mosaic tiles in a workshop by chiselling stone

Scene 2: A Roman family welcomes guests into their home. The floor is decorated with a large mosaic.

Scene 3: A group of modern archaeologists excavate the remains of a Roman villa. Fragments of the mosaic can be seen through a sedimentary layer.


Story trail six: Roman coin

Scene 1: A Roman worker strikes a coin in a workshop with a big hammer

Scene 2: A Roman man pays a merchant a bunch of coins in a market

Scene 3: A coin falls to the ground through a hole in the merchant's coin pouch