Bottle with stopper and suspension ring, possibly intended for unguent

Roman Period

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 137

Many artworks of the Roman Period in Egypt represent the taste of wealthy urban merchant and rich farming classes of Roman Egypt. Wide trade of luxury works is evident, and Greco-Roman style dominates.

Since Egyptian pharaohs had first authorized Greek trading colonies and employed Greek mercenaries in the seventh century BC., there was a considerable Greek presence in Egypt. With Alexander's conquest, Macedonian Greek Ptolemies ruled as successors to the pharaohs, and Ptolemaic Greek and eastern Mediterranean soldiery was heavily settled in parts of Egypt. Although the Ptolemaic kings maintained traditional Egyptian religious and political forms, elite society, of mixed Greek and Egyptian descent, aspired to Greek culture in many respects. With the replacement of a Ptolemaic pharaoh in Memphis and Alexandria by a Roman emperor in Rome, the status of Greek culture and art, if anything, increased. However, multiple cultural influences were t play, and their reconciliation differed, depending on the identity of the patron and on whether personal, public, religious, or funerary purposes were in question.

This small handled bottle has a stopper attached by a chain to a ring that is attached to both handle so as not to be lost. Another chain is attached to the ring ends in a larger ring. Most likely the bottle held perfumed oil or unguent to be used when visiting the public baths; the chain might have served to attach the bottle to a belt or the wrist. Public baths were introduced to Egypt under the Ptolemies and continued as a popular social practice under the Romans.

Bottle with stopper and suspension ring, possibly intended for unguent, Bronze or copper alloy

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.