At the DJHS Archive, we have a lachrymatory bottle which can also be called a tear bottle, tear catcher, tear vial, unguentaria, or unguentarium. This particular lachrymatory bottle, from the Roman Period 63 BCE – 330 CE, was given to Mrs. Mabel Byer (1888-1976) by the Chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, Pinchas Sapir. This artifact is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, provided at the time it was gifted to Mabel Byer.
Tear bottles were fairly common in the Roman Empire near the turn of the Common Era when mourners filled small glass bottles or cups with tears and placed them in burial tombs as symbols of respect. There is some speculation as to the validity of these claims, as apothecary bottles with other uses were also common during this time.
Collection of the Byers Estate