Cartagena Silver Dishes
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Cartagena Silver Dishes
(Revelation 18.11-13)
Page 254

"The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore - cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves." (Revelation 18.11-13)✞

Slaves and Fine Cargoes

Silver Serving DishesThis list of various merchandises included the valuable and sought after silver dishes from Cartagena and illustrated the great degree of materialism in Roman society. Few of the goods listed were necessities, most were luxuries. Roman society had become thoroughly self indulgent. Human beings had become commodities and men, women and children were sold as slaves. The mourning of the merchants in this passage was purely selfish because their sources of profit had been taken away. The market from which they drew so much wealth had gone. Their only concern was the luxury and the trade it brought to them which had now failed.

Passion for Silver

Cartagena SilverAt the time John of Patmos was writing, there was in Rome a passion for silver. The best silver came from Cartagena in Spain, where 40,000 men toiled in the "silver mines." Dishes, bowls, jugs, fruit baskets, statuettes, whole dinner services, were made of solid silver. Marcus Licinius Crassus (BC 115-53) amassed an enormous fortune during his life and was considered the wealthiest man in Rome, and among the richest men in all history. He had wrought silver dishes which had cost $100 for each pound of silver in them. Even a fighting general and Prefect of the Provisions like Pompeius Paullinus carried with him on his campaigns wrought silver dishes which weighed 12,000 pounds, the greater part of which eventually fell into the hands of the invading Germans Tribes as spoils of war.

Baths and Anklets

PlinyIn addition, Pliny told us that women would bathe only in silver baths, soldiers had swords with silver hilts and scabbards with silver chains, even poor women had silver anklets and slaves had silver mirrors. At the Saturnalia, the festival which fell at the same time as the Christian Christmas and at which gifts were given, often the gifts were little silver spoons. The wealthier the giver, the more ostentatious the gift was expected to be.

"Cartagena Silver Dishes"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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