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ampulla



A kind of bottle used by the Romans for the preservation of liquids. It was made either of earthenware or glass, and sometimes, though very rarely, of costlier materials. Great numbers of such vessels have found their way into museums and private collections. They are generally "bellied" – i.e. approaching globular in form, narrowing towards the mouth, and provided with two handles. They are frequently mentioned in connection with the baths of ancient times. The ampulla olearia was a "bottle of oil" which Romans took with them when they went to the bath, and with which they anointed themselves after their ablutions. Sometimes the oils were perfumed.

The ampulla Remensis (French, la sainte ampoule) was the name of the famous vessel containing the unguent with which the French kings were anointed at their coronation at Rheims. The ampulla, a vessel for the coronation oil in the English regalia, is in the shape of an eagle.