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Ancient Roman jar riddled with mystery

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posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:24 PM
I saw this item, and did not find it was discussed in here at all. It is curious, but it can not be that hard to figure out what it was used for.

Tiny holes suggest bizarre possibilities, but continue to stump researchers

This ancient jar is full of holes, including one at its base; though scientists have no idea what it was used for, they believe it dates back 1,800 years to Roman Britain.

Interesting eh. The story goes.........

An ancient clay vessel reconstructed from pieces discovered at a Canadian museum is riddled with tiny holes, leaving archaeologists baffled over what it was used for.

The jar, just 16 inches (40 centimeters) tall and dating back about 1,800 years, was found shattered into an unrecognizable 180 pieces in a storage room at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. But even after it was restored, the scientists were faced with a mystery. So far no one has been able to identify another artifact like it from the Roman world.

Seems like a lot of questions. Why is it Shattered in Ottawa at all?
How did it get there?
WTF is it?
Are we even sure where it's from?
Could it even date back to UR, and be 5000 Years Old?

Seems, they discuss a lot of this, but have truly nothing.

"Everyone's stumped by it," Katie Urban, one of the researchers at the London, Ontario, museum, told LiveScience. "We've been sending it around to all sorts of Roman pottery experts and other pottery experts, and no one seems to be able to come up with an example."

The jar may have held rodent snacks for ancient Romans, or even served as a lamp, the researchers speculate, though no theory definitively holds water.

What a Punny Guy.
"holds water"

Where did the jar come from?

Archival research indicates the jar was among artifacts from Roman Britain (the part of Great Britain under Roman control from about A.D. 43 to 410) that were given to the museum in the 1950s by William Francis Grimes, an archaeologist who died in 1988. Grimes' team had dug them out of a World War II bomb crater in London, England, not far from an ancient temple dedicated to Mithra, an Iranian god who was popular throughout the Roman Empire.

Urban cautioned, however, that it is not certain the jar is from that dig. The vessel does not appear to be on the list of artifacts received from Grimes, although she added that the jar was found in 180 pieces and the list was short on details.

"How it came to be in our collection is not 100 percent clear; we're still trying to figure that out," Urban said.

There is a small chance the mystery vessel came from Iraq, because another collection of artifacts found in storage at the museum came from the ancient city of Ur. Those date as far back as 5,000 years ago. Leonard Woolley, an archaeologist best known for discovering a rich series of royal burials at Ur, had excavated them in 1931 and sent them to the British Museum. The museum in turn sent them to the University of Western Ontario in 1933 as a gift.

How was it used?

The question on the team's mind is: Why would a Roman create a jar full of holes?

"There are a lot of different options, a lot of them involving either a lamp or some sort of animal container," Urban said, adding that while the tiny holes would've allowed light to pass through the object, the hole at its bottom suggests it wasn't a lamp.

Another possibility is that the jar was used to store dormice, rodents found throughout Europe; ancient texts suggest the mice were a popular snack for Romans.

(One ancient recipe suggests eating a dormouse "stuffed with a forcemeat of pork and small pieces of dormouse meat trimmings, all pounded with pepper, nuts, laser, broth." Then, "put the dormouse thus stuffed in an earthen casserole, roast it in the oven, or boil it in the stock pot.")

Urban said the problem with this theory is that dormice jars from elsewhere in the Roman world look different from this vessel. The rodent jars were equipped with a ramp that mice could run along and use to help store food within the holes.

They do not appear to have many details about this Item. My Personal thoughts lead to the following.

Yet another idea is that the jar held snakes, ones too big to slither out through its holes. Snakes were a popular religious symbol throughout the ancient world.

This would be my impression. Someone was Transporting Dangerous Snakes, likely Cobras for Shows/Games/ETC.......Maybe for a Snake Charmer.

"It's anyone's guess," said Urban. "We need to find somebody who has seen something similar to it, but so far we haven’t found that."

The artifact is currently on display at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology as part of an exhibit on Ur and Roman Britain. The show runs through the first week of September.

Enjoy the item, and it's puzzling past. I know we have "some" of the Brightest Contributors in the WWW, so I look forward to seeing your replies.



Holely Jar

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:28 PM
First thing that crossed my mind was a salad swinger lol

But i think you might not be too far off with the snakes. Or maybe some other animal(s).

+7 more 
posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:29 PM
Roman Disco Light.

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:29 PM
clay colander for pasta? incense burner? Disco ball? hanging shower bucket?

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:30 PM
Maybe it was for Potpourri?

Sorry but I don't really have much more to add other than that.

A jar with holes doesn't really interest me THAT much.

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:38 PM
carry small animals? cats etc?

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:40 PM
I reckon its for a food stuff that needs drying out...
Maybe something like sun dried tomatos.
Place your food inside, and leave in warm place (plenty of those in rome I guess) and the holes allow for the liquid drying out of the food to evaporate.
Seems the most logical to me.
edit on 30-6-2012 by djyorkie because: had put egypt instead of rome... doh!

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:43 PM
when I saw it the first thought I had was snake pot

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:44 PM
Kind of reminds me of these things.

However, I like the idea a food dehydrator also.
edit on 30-6-2012 by Doodle19815 because: To add the pic since nobody seems to click on the link.

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:44 PM
How about a plant pot with holes to let the water drain?

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:48 PM
Maybe it was used to grow strawberries or similar fruit for harvest.

Here is a strawberry planter pot...

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:49 PM
maybe those holes were where decorative jewels or stones were placed.

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:50 PM
My first thought was a piece of a water fountain, imagine water coming out a spigot constantly poring in the the jar. The water would come out of the holes for beauty or for multiple people to get a drink from. But then again it said their is a hole at the bottom...

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:55 PM
If 1800 years from now, archaeologists were to find some of the contraptions my old man has built, to do just what he needed done at the time, would they be scratching their heads just like they are now? Probably.

There's nothing wrong with trying to determine an item's use, but I'm sure there were plenty of guys back then coming up with contraptions just like my old man does. So they may never know its intended use.

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:55 PM
Washing machine.
Load it with laundry and lower it into the base of a waterfall for agitation.

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:57 PM
reply to post by Shane

My guess is to store certain food such as figs, garlic,onions, dates etc.

These items need to have air around them in order for the food not to rot and should be kept in as dark a place as possible. This vessel serves both needs for slow air drying and storage.

Either that or this was around the time a drill device was invented and some kid went crazy on Grrandma's flower vase.


posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 05:59 PM
Another thought I have just had, is that it was used for smoking foods, such as fish or meat.
Place your fish/meat into the container, and then place it into a special smoking oven/room, and the holes in the container allow the smoking process to enter the food.
Once removed from the oven/smoking room, the food is already in its jar, ready for short term storage.
The only thing that puts me off this idea, is that I would expect the pot to be coloured/stained from the smoking process... But who is to say that this pot never got round to being used.

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 06:01 PM
reply to post by Shane

Text"There are a lot of different options, a lot of them involving either a lamp or some sort of animal container," Urban said, adding that while the tiny holes would've allowed light to pass through the object, the hole at its bottom suggests it wasn't a lamp.

The hole at the bottom is what made me think it was a lamp , light the candle and just set the shade over it , the suggestion it held snakes or some type of animal is stupid because it has the hole in the bottom .

It also could have been some decorative piece of a fountain to disperse the water in many directions , it could have some type of planter where the flowers grew out the holes .
edit on 30-6-2012 by Azadok2day because: I kan too spel

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 06:04 PM

Originally posted by Phage
Washing machine.
Load it with laundry and lower it into the base of a waterfall for agitation.

Great thought , but slaves worked better
besides it was small only 16 inches tall .

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 06:05 PM
reply to post by Klassified

Lol, good thinking. I was going to also suggest something similar...
Maybe someone thought "i know, if I pop loads of holes into this old vase, and bury it, maybe one day it will be found, and they will try to figure out what it was used fir".
Tempted to do that myself... Get sonething that will last fir thousands of years.. Change it some way, and then bury it 10 miles outside a small town...
That will allow for a few centuries for the town to expand, and create a chance for it being found. Lol

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