With the Byzantium 330-1453 exhibition due to open at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (press release here) on Saturday, attention is focused on the sixth century silver/silver gilt cup commonly called the Antioch Chalice. Found at the start of the 20th century in Antioch, and once in the possession of oil magnate John Rockefeller, it is decorated with twelve figures confusingly identified as two images of Christ and ten of the apostles. The decorated shell hides a plain silver cup. The more credulous have identified it as the Holy Grail.
The Independent has a breathlessly excitable piece about it:
Curators spent five years bringing together a host of archaeological treasures including mosaics, jewellery, icons and manuscripts to create the first exhibition in Britain on Byzantine art in more than 50 years. But the item causing the most frenzied excitement is the Antioch Chalice, a sixth century silver cup on loan from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art which – to grail aficionados – is one of the most credible contenders to be the Holy Grail itself.
Professor Robin Cormack, the exhibition's curator said: "[The chalice] has an inner plain cup with an ornate covering. The outer cup can be dated to the sixth century but nobody can say for sure when the inner cup was made. There is still a plausible argument that it is the Holy Grail."
I much prefer the laconic comment on the Met website:
The identification of the "Antioch Chalice" as the Holy Grail has not been sustained.
It is generally now regarded as a remodelled sixth century standing lamp. Holy Grail or not, it is a stunning piece.
Image copyright Metropolitan Museum of Art: