The Tessera Hospitalis is an ancient symbol of friendship and long-distance ties, a small unique token made of ivory, metal or clay, which could be in any shape - a lion, boar, ram, gheko or an abstract symbol. It was made in two parts, each friend holding on to a half as a promise and as a marker of identity to be presented next time they, or their children, reunited. From archaeology and the ancient comedy of Plautus, Poenulus, we know that some 3,000 years ago friends exchanged such objects, stretching their bonds to each other over hundreds of miles and generations. In a world of the ancient Mediterranean, where people were often on the move, hospitality was key.
This modern sculpture has been inspired by the ancient Tessera Hospitalis, and what it represents.
It is not static but mobile, as it is only one half of the whole. Each shape has been uniquely created by a pupil from one of the nine Swansea schools, that took part in the project Future Memory in Place: Cila, Cwm Glas, Cwmrhydyceirw, Dylan Thomas, Hendrefoilan, Morriston, Parkland, Sea View and St Helens, as well as other members of the Swansea community.
Each of them is the guardian of their Tessera, which links them to this monument and the moment of its creation. What will be the stories of the Tesserae of this sculpture? Only those who made them and hold the other half will know - as they extend their ties to each other and the ancient port of Swansea into the future and across the globe.
Visit http://projects.beyondtext.ac.uk/deplacingfuturememory-fo/index.php for more details about the project and the main funders - Arts and Humanities Research Council and the underpinning research at the University of Exeter Classics and Ancient History Department.