Medicine box with Asklepios and Hygeia
Date: Late fifth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Italy
Dimensions: 11 × 7.5 × 3 cm
Description: This ivory medicine box is decorated with the image of Asklepios, the Greco-Roman healing god, and his daughter Hygeia, the goddess of health, cleanliness, and hygiene. Asklepios appears with a snake wrapped around a walking staff, a symbol that still represents medicine and medical associations today, while Hygeia holds a jar from which to feed another large snake. This box was later transformed into a Christian reliquary, at which point a cross was added between the heads of these antique figures.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 1, 2
Repository and Online Resources: • The medicine box/reliquary is now in the Musée d'histoire du Valais, in Sion, Switzerland. • For more views, visit the page for this object on the Kornbluth Photography website.
Image Credits: Genevra Kornbluth
Tags: Access to the sacred, Connections to the past, Relics and reliquaries, Health and medicine, Late Antique, Western European, Christian, Polytheist, Mediterranean