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

"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 illustrates the great degree of materialism of this Roman society. Few of the goods listed are necessities, most are 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 is purely selfish. The market from which they drew so much wealth is gone. Their only bond was the luxury and the trade it brought to them.

Passion for Silver

Cartagena SilverAt the time John 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 Roman history, 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

PlinyPliny tells 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 the 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 was the gift expected to be.

"Cartagena Silver Dishes"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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