Hundreds of ancient small bottles discovered in Istanbul

Excavations at Istanbul’s Avcılar district unearthed hundreds of unguentaria – small ceramic or glass bottles – containing traces of antidepressants and heart medications. The find was made at the site of ancient Greek city of Bathonea.

Trove of unguentaria (by Daily Sabah)
Trove of unguentaria (by Daily Sabah)

The find is said to confirm the siege of Constantinople by a joint Avar-Sassanid force in 626. The bottles were found in the Bathonea excavations carried out off the banks of Küçükçekmece Lake. Laboratory analysis of of pieces of ceramics revealed them forming unguentaria. A find of 700 such vessels is the first time such an amount was discovered.

Excavations at the site (by Daily Sabah)
Excavations at the site (by Daily Sabah)

Other finds consist of pestles of various sizes, mortars, and a stove. These artefacts indicate the presence of a pharmaceutical production centre. Residue analysis from unguentaria suggested that it contained Methanone and Phenanthrene, which are substances used for depression and have a soothing impact.

Unearthed structures at the site (by Daily Sabah)

The carbon samples of the residue are reportedly analysed by Polish Academy of Sciences Archaeology and Ethnography Institute in Wrocław, Poland. These findings could have immense implications for the history of Constantinople as they could provide concrete proof for the Avar invasions which took place between 620 and 640.

(after Daily Sabah)

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