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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Greco-Roman Art : Greco-Roman Ivory Pyxis
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Greco-Roman Ivory Pyxis - PF.6300
Origin: Jerusalem
Circa: 2 nd Century BC to 2 AD
Dimensions: 1.25" (3.2cm) high
Collection: Classical Antiquities
Medium: Ivory

Location: United States
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A pyxis was a jar used to hold balms, ointments or other cosmetics. Such vessels adorned the dressing table of every lady of fashion in the Classical world. On occasion, pyxides have been known to have stored gold coins or other valuables such as jewelry. Even today, women continue to keep their treasures in luxurious containers that both protect and enhance the prestige of the items. Surely this phenomenon can trace its roots back to objects like this pyxis. This particular pyxis was made from ivory, a very rare and costly material. Such a container would have been used to hold the most precious and expensive of ointment or jewelry. Its simplicity of form belies its great value, stored in the very atoms of the material that comprises it.

Over two thousand years ago, a noble lady or a woman of great wealth, living in the area surrounding Jerusalem might have safeguarded her priceless jewelry of her most precious ointments or cosmetics in this pyxis. However, today the pyxis has become the treasure. Although the contents it once contained have long since disappeared, the beauty and history of this pyxis astounds us in itself. Today, we appreciate it for what it is, not for what it holds. - (PF.6300)


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