The jar, just 16 inches (40 centimeters) tall and dating back about 1,800 years, was found shattered into an unrecognizable 180 pieces in a room at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. But even after it was restored, the scientists were faced with a mystery. So far no one has been able to identify another artifact like it from . "Everyone's stumped by it," Katie Urban, one of the researchers at the London, Ontario, museum, told LiveScience. "We've been sending it around to all sorts of Roman pottery experts and other pottery experts, and no one seems to be able to come up with an example."
One suggestion is that it was a storage jar for keeping dormice alive, the main ingredient in a popular Roman snack.
Another possibility is that the jar was used to store dormice, rodents found throughout Europe; ancient texts suggest the mice were a popular snack for Romans. ( suggests eating a dormouse "stuffed with a forcemeat of pork and small pieces of dormouse meat trimmings, all pounded with pepper, nuts, laser, broth." Then, "put the dormouse thus stuffed in an earthen casserole, roast it in the oven, or boil it in the stock pot.") Urban said the problem with this theory is that dormice jars from elsewhere in the Roman world look different from this vessel. The rodent jars were equipped with a ramp that mice could run along and use to help store food within the holes.
Another possibility suggested in the article is that it was used to hold snakes used in religious ceremonies. Hmm, I wonder if any of these type of jars have been discovered in certain areas of the USA?
You can read the rest of the article here.
If you want that recipe so you can try it at home, go here.
What do you think? What might this have been used for?
Perhaps it was a Roman laundry hamper? The holes would have allowed the odor to escape from the owner's toga, especially helpful after a long evening of reveling with Nero and other notable Roman dignitaries.