Gold alabastron (perfume bottle)


British Museum

British Museum

This elegant perfume phial with a long narrow body and pointed base belonged to an aristocrat who lived in the seventh century BC, in what is now call the 'Orientalizing' period in Etruria and Latium (Lazio), Italy. Many fine pieces of goldwork have been found in the particularly rich tombs of this period, such as the Regolini Galassi tomb at Cerveteri in Etruria and the Bernardini and Barberini tombs at Praeneste (ancient Palestrina) in Latium. The contents of these tombs can be seen in the Vatican Museum and the Villa Giulia Museum in Rome. Another fine gold vessel with granulated decoration is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This phial and many other items from the period, including gold jewellery, can be seen in the British Museum. The phial is decorated by the technique of granulation (tiny gold granules applied to sheet gold). A guilloche band on the neck is formed from double rows of granulation and rows of zigzags cover the body.

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  • Title: Gold alabastron (perfume bottle)
  • Date Created: -650/-600
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 15.20cm; Weight: 406.00g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: granulation
  • Registration number: 1884,0614.18
  • Production place: Made in Italy
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Palestrina
  • Period/culture: Etruscan
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Castellani, Alessandro


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