Ancient Red Terracotta Flask, Roman North Africa (3182BAC) $525


Ht: 7”  W: 4.875”  D: 4” | FREE SHIPPING!

This thin-walled ancient Roman vessel is a beautiful work of art. Its has a delicate piriform (pear-shaped) body and fine relief designs of a rosette, lion and palm leaves surround it.



This elegant Roman-Empire terracotta piriform (pear shaped) flask is an unguentarium (a “tears vessel”) that contained healing salves, oils, ointments, and other toilet items. Resting on a round foot, its rim is flared and a graceful handle is attached to its lower body. Made for wealthy Romans, it was often found at gravesites and were filled with perfume or oil for the deceased for the afterlife. Its originally Greek unique shape was used in Italian-made terra sigillata wares for the rich by applying a refined red clay slip to give it a soft sheen after which it was burnished to a high gloss. This piece is a varient of terra sigillata called ARS (African Red Slip) made in ceramic centers in the Roman-North-Africa territory called Africa-Proconsularis. It became so popular, it overtook the Italian market and was exported throughout the Roman-Empire. Piriform flasks with raised images were never used for coarse wares; they were only made for the rich. There are three well-known symbols here taken from Egyptian, Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cultures.  The lion is a symbol of strength and power; palm leaves are a symbol of victory; and the rosette is an symbol of Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love, beauty, war and justice. The low numbers produced, its very thin walls and its burial made its survival rare in any form.


Kevin Green, Interpreting the Past, Roman Pottery, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1992.

Potsherd Atlas of Roman Pottery, North African Red Slip Ware, www/

Additional information

Weight 5 lbs
Dimensions 12 × 9 × 9 in
Place of Origin

Ancient Mediterranean


Ancient, Roman Empire


Imperial Period 1st Century BCE – 4th Century CE

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 7” W: 4.875" D: 4"

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 17.78cm W: 12.38cm D: 10.16cm


9 oz


Very good, has restorations/repairs (see description)

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size