The precursor of the Roman aryballos
In ancient Greece, the aryballos was a storage vessel for anointing oils.
It was small in proportion to its narrow neck, with a spherical body, a wide flat mouth, and one or two handles.
Used as an unguentarium for men, (ladies used an alabastron), it was carried by athletes on the way to the training ground and arena. Along with a strigilis and a sponge, it was filled with olive oil and either attached to a belt or to the athlete's wrist. During competition, it was removed and hung on the gymnasium wall.
After training, the athletes would rub their sweaty body with olive oil before scraping it off, saturated with dust and sweat, with a strigilis made of iron or bronze and conveniently hook-shaped for this specific purpose.
Different customs applied in other countries.
The aryballos was also an important item used for medical and hygiene purposes.
- Dimensions: approximately 7 x 9cm
- Glass colour: green
The Aryballos in Rome – the city of Gladiators
Even Romans were addicted to sport and gambling – otherwise, why build the four-storey Colosseum with its 240 columns? The capital of the Roman Empire placed heavy demands on athletes and gladiators, and there was a great need for Aryballoi. Here, an aryballos was often made of coloured glass, and the translucent pieces can be seen in museums today. It was used in the same manner as its Greek counterpart.
Replica of a Roman aryballos
This small aryballos is a replica of a model from the 3rd century BC which was found in France and is typical of French hand-made blown glass. The streaks and small bubbles replicate the characteristic qualities of Roman glass.
The green aryballos is about 7 x 9 cm in size, and small variance in dimensions are common in hand-blown work.
This green aryballos with wonderful decorations on its sides could be used for the same purposes as its historic predecessors.
It would make an interesting decoration for table, cabinet or bathroom, and being fascinating and unusual, would attract attention and arouse great curiosity.
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