A Biblical "Beehive" Unguent Jar and Lid, Hellenistic Period, ca. 3rd-1st Century BCE


This type so-called "beehive" vessel, of banded alabaster is conical in form, the banded alabaster body tapers to a flat base and features two small perforated lug handles at the shoulder.  The accompanying lid also exhibits a perforated lug finial at the center.  Vessels of this distinctive shape were used to hold perfumed oils, aromatic gum resins, incense (frankincense or myrrh) or semi solid unguents (aromatic ointments) such as the "Balm of Gilead," described in the Bible as a particularly valuable commodity.  Such jars were one of the most desirable and highly prized commodities of Ancient Arabia.

Dimensions: Height:  4 inches  (10 cm)

Condition: Encrusted base and deposits on the interior of the jar. Some very minor ancient rim and lid edge roughness, otherwise intact and in overall excellent condition.

Provenance: Private NYC collection, acquired from Fortuna Fine Arts, NYC., 1980-1990s.

Category: $1000 - $5000, Stone, Vessels

Type: Near East

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