Ornate and rare Roman perfume bottle discovered

MOLA team
26.02.2013

A small and curiously shaped object was discovered by MOLA archaeologists during excavation in the Moorgate area.

The hexagonal copper-alloy object is highly ornate and decorated with blue enamel. Found in several pieces, the artefact has been identified as a 1st or 2nd century Roman flask.

The object is extremely rare, with only twelve examples known to have been found in the world, many of which are fragmentary. It is thought that these decorative vessels were intended to carry ointments and perfumes. Similar flasks have been found alongside other items associated with cosmetics, supporting this theory.

The decoration on the flask is a fusion of Roman and Late British Iron Age or ‘Celtic’ motifs. The mixing of designs suggests that the item was made in Britain by local craftsmen in response to thriving and adapting new markets.

Further research will hopefully reveal a precise date for the flask and perhaps even pinpoint where in Britain it was produced.

Read more about some of the fascinating metal finds being unearthed in the Walbrook valley on our Walbrook Discovery Porgramme blog.

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