Height: 5.400 mm
P&EE 1883 12-13 300
Room 49: Roman Britain
Bronze oil flask
Roman Britain, 2nd century AD
From Bayford, Kent
African heads on a Roman flask found in Kent
This finely cast oil flask was part of a set of bath implements, along with two iron strigils, and a carrying handle, found in a rich grave in 1877. The other grave goods included a lamp, jugs, bottles, jars, dishes and cups made of glass, bronze and pottery.
In Hellenistic and Roman times, the 'exotic' appearance of African people evoked interest, and they were quite often depicted in art. The negroid head motif on this flask should not, therefore, be taken as evidence for the actual presence of black Africans in Roman Kent.