Semitic Museum No. 1995.10.509
Plain White Unguentarium
Date: Hellenistic

Height: 14.1 cm.
Max. Diameter: 4.5 cm.
Ext. Rim Diameter: 2.8 cm.
Base Diameter: 2.2 cm.
Preservation: Intact except for a chip out of the body, one small crack; very well preserved.
Stanford No.: 4118 (red) no longer visible

Form: Plain White Ware fusiform unguentarium also known as a spindle-shaped unguentarium. Rounded biconical body, tapering base descending to a flared foot, uneven concave neck, one side straighter than the other.

Fabric: Well levigated buff colored clay with no visible inclusions.

Decoration: Traces of white slip?

Technical/Manufacturing: Wheelmade. Cripping and cracking on the body due to overfiring. Both the neck and the base are lumpy and uneven, prominent wheelmarks (perhaps the vessel moved off-center on the wheel). Fingerprints and/or smoothing visible, especially on the lower body. Unguentarium will not stand.

Remarks: Provenance unknown. Unguentaria are small narrow-necked flasks to contain perfumed oils or unguents (hence the name). They are used throughout the Hellenistic period. On Cyprus most of the ceramic versions are made of Plain White Ware. It was common that they would not stand, and appears in some cases to have been deliberately done. The vessels would have been placed in tombs, as gifts, lying on their sides. The stoppers that sealed the contents must have been made of perishable materials and have long since disintegrated and disappeared. In general all the unguentaria in the Semitic Museum's Cesnola Collection are of the same basic pattern: fusiform and wheelmade. They have been placed into basic large-scale groups, based predominantly on body shape and overall form. Within these larger groupings there may be variations in both rim type and shape of the base/foot. If the vessels were placed together by rim type the groupings would vary considerably. Base and body similar to Deshayes example from Palaepaphos (Ktima), but the rim is different. The rim is more similar to the Hayes unguentarium (see below) from Nea Paphos, but the body shape is different.

  • Publication: None. Not published by Webster 1968 with the other unguentaria from the Cesnola Collection at Stanford (see 1995.10.503, 516; 513; 505, 511, 515).
  • Comparanda SM: 1995.10.501 with a broken neck, lying down in the group photo.
  • Comparanda Elsewhere: Deshayes 1963:Pl. LXV:7, 3rd vessel from the left, from Ktima (Palaepaphos). Hayes 1991:71, Pl. XVI:5, number 53 from Nea Paphos.
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