Without any practical function, this table was conceived like a sculpture and probably served as pure decoration in a Roman palace. It is composed of twisted laurel branches and berries that sprout from a rocky base. An eagle with outstretched wings and holding another laurel branch in its beak has landed in the center. Large, curling seashells form the top. Scholars cannot tell whether these elements might have had special emblematic meanings or whether they were chosen simply for their decorative qualities.
A 1713 guidebook of Rome mentions a room in the Palazzo Altieri that was decorated as "an artificial cave, composed of mountains and rocks. Inside is a bed made of tree-trunks, a table, a fountain..." The Getty Museum's table would not have been out of place in such a grotto.