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.