Roman glass ‘tear bottle collector’ used during the first century A.D. (Time of Jesus)
Before the Roman period, glass was very valuable and very scarce. Glass vessels were made in a sand core mold and were limited to only very small vessels.
Around the beginning of the first century, the Romans developed the technique of glass blowing. The process allowed the creation of many new designs and shapes, and led to the widespread use of glass in the entire Roman Empire.
This style was one of the first blown glass vessels. Known as the “tear bottle” or “tear collector” because of both its shape and function. During the first century, these bottles were used to collect the tears to remember the significant events in a person’s life (much like a camera today).
Tear bottles in scripture
People in mourning would save these bottles and leave them in the grave of the deceased. From the Bible, the tradition of collecting tears in bottles is mentioned by King David. In Psalms 56:8, “…put my tears into your bottle, are they not written in your book?” In Luke 7:38, a sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, and dries them with her hair. These tears were probably saved and carried in a bottle such as this one. The tear collecting bottle is a unique piece of history from the time of Jesus, which symbolizes repentance in Christ.
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Zak’s Antiquities is the website of Zak’s fine art and antiquities located on the Christian Quarter road in Jerusalem’s Old City. The shop began in 1964 and has remained as a family owned and operated business till this day. For the past 50 years Zak’s Antiquities has sold ancient coins, antiquities and art authentic to Israel and Jerusalem.