Roman Oil Bottle

This clay bottle is part of our Trade and Economy Collection. It came from the Roman province of Judaea and dates to the First Century BC / AD.

The bottle would have been used for storing oil. Oil was widely used for washing, funerary and dietary purposes, and it was traded across the Roman Empire. Trade was essential to the Roman Empire. The empire cost a vast sum of money to run and trade brought in a lot of that money. The population of the city of Rome was one million and this large population required all sorts of things brought back via trade.

The Romans made trade as easy as possible. There was only one currency used and there were no complicating customs dues. Trade was also encouraged by many years of peace within the Empire. Trade involved foodstuffs (e.g. olives, fish, meat, cereals, salt, prepared foods such as fish sauce, olive oil, wine and beer), animal products (e.g. leather and hides), objects, and materials for manufacturing and construction such as glass, marble, wood, wool, bricks and metals. There was also significant trade in slaves.