The Early Roman Imperial Period (1st - 2nd Century AD)

Sparkles From The Deep

The Early Roman Imperial Period (1st – 2nd Century AD)

There is only one polychrome alabastron from the Late Hellenistic-Early Roman Imperial Periods in The Bodrum Museum of Uderwater Archaeology. It was found along with a golden diadem in 1976 in a tomb which was uncovered during road construction around Yatağan, Yumurtalık. The masters in Alexandria created these valuable products by placing gold sheets and colored ribbons between two pieces of clear glass. Gold-banded mosaic glass products were very valuable in that age and only a few workshops were able to produce them. The alabastron in The Museum of Bodrum probably came by ship from Alexandria to the region of Karia. It may have came to the port of Halikarnassos and been purchased there by a nobleman from Stratonikeia, who had it placed in his tomb after his death.

Undoubtedly, the most important glass specimen in The Museum of Bodrum is a purple mold-blown bottle, with two different raised relief historical scenes on either faces. It was found in a tomb uncovered during road construction done by the Turkish Coal Administration in Stratonikeia in 1986, and brought to The Museum of Bodrum from the Eskihisar excavation storehouses in 1991. The scene on the front face is a ship with sails and oars and an armored, helmeted warrior sword and shield in his hands; standing on the prow of ship. The Greek letters “Aias” are written from top to bottom next to the unusually-proportioned figure. The ship belongs to Aias of Salamis, who that participated in the Trojan war. On the other side of bottle is a naked male figure with an animal pelt on his back, sitting under a large olive-tree. This figure, with his hand stretched out towards an animal in front of him, is probably Aias.

Bottles like the one from Sratonikeia, which are made with by the mold-blowing technique and inscribed with Greek letters, are from the eastern Mediterranean. They were probably produced in the workshops of Jerusalem and Sidon. The Aias bottle was exported from the eastern Mediterranean region by ship to the region of Karia and placed in the tomb of a nobleman from Stratonikeia. It probably contained expensive perfume or ointment. G. Mariacher and S. Matheson are of the opinion that the ship pictured on the bottle is the ship of Argonautes and the heroes are Jason and Phrixus (see. G.Mariacher, 1970, p.18, fig.4; S.Matheson, 1980, p.49-50, fig 127). However, most experts agree that the hero on bottle is Aias (see. A.Özet, 1993, JGS, p.142-145).

In addition to the mold-blown luxury products of 1st century AD mentioned above, there is one ribbed-bowl in The Museum of Bodrum. It is a typical example of the type of bowls seen all over the Mediterranean and Europe, which were produced from the beginning of 1st century AD to the third quarter of same century. These ribbed bowls were among the luxury goods of that age. This moided, thick-walled, amber-colored, polished ribbed bowl is on display in the Glass Hall, though its exact source is unknown. These bowls were produced in the eastern Mediterrenaen at one time, and spread from there. Later, they were produced locally in the workshops of Gallia and Italy. We don’t have definite information about the origins of glassware displayed in the museums of Antalya, Anamur and Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museums. (see. C.Lightfoot, 1993, p.35, 22-37; M.Stern, 1989, p.53, 207-208; A.Özet, 1987, p.593,603 fig.7) The amber-colored bowl in the Museum of Bodrum most probably was produced in Syria-Philistine workshops and exported to Karia.

In addition to this ceremonial bowl, a green, cut-decorated bowl from Köyceğiz and some of the purple and blue unpolished bowl-cups, the preferred drinking cups of the 1st century AD, were found in the excavations of the Necropolis of Kaunos. Along with a number of green and blue items popular in the 1st century AD, there were also a few wine-colored items, like the Kaunos (Beat Rutti, 1991, p.325).

The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology has other specimens that date back to the 1st century AD, including jugs, globular-shaped small bottles, tubular unguentariums, preform and onion-shaped candlestick-unguentariums, all made by the free-blowing technique, all for daily use. The careless workmanship and inexpensive materials confirm the theory that they were daily use items. After the discovery of the blow-pipe, simple workshops were set up in the region of Aegean to meet the increasing demand. Itinerant workshops also flourished during this time. There is no evidence about local glass product in the region of Karia, but it is assumed that the region had a simple local industry in the Early Roman Imperial Period.

The use of tubular-shaped perfume bottles in the Early Roman Imperial Period has been documented. It is believed that the bottles with collared rims are the products of the eastern Roman Empire (M.Stern, 1977, p.35-38). There are several cylinder-shaped, long-necked, teardrop-shaped tubular bottles in The Museum of Bodrum, but only one spindle-shaped unguentarium. Similar spindle-shaped perfume bottles can be seen in Anatolia, but not in Syria-Philistine. Most of them have been found in excavations in the Aegean area and Greece (Emel Erten Yağcı, 1990, p.32-33). This spindle-shaped unguentarium in the Museum of Bodrum were imported to the Karia region from the West.

Also from the Early Roman Imperial Period is a twisted rod, made either for cosmetic purposes or for the stirring of medicine. Another straight rod in the collection most likely belonged to the upper part of a kohl box. Several small, round, oval beads and dies, made for inlaying of for use as game-dies, can also be dated to the Early Roman Imperial Period. The final member of this category is a lid of a bowl or a jar, the only example of its kind. All of the items described above are funeral gifts. These include ceremonial dishes, drinking cups and perfume bottles.