Tears Within Bottles
Yursa Al Badawi
15 years old
December 30, 2021
Tears Within Bottles

Who would put tears in a bottle? When did they store them? And why?

Something the majority of the people wouldn’t believe; or are oblivious that in ancient times (specifically 3,000 years ago) people would store their tears in bottles!

They’re called “lachrymatory” (from the Latin term lacrima) meaning ‘tear’.

It’s usually a glass vessel shaped like a flask or a spindle. They’re found extremely common in the Middle Eastern regions, especially in the Levant. Considering the psalm mentioned previously, it is assumed that these bottles were prevalent around 100 A.D. (which is before the Roman and Greek empires in the Middle Eastern). There were many speculations regarding the psalm, and whether or not ‘tear bottles’ existed in 100 A.D. (supposedly it originated during the Hellenistic Period, and it was even believed that they didn’t exist till the 19tth century!). But many discoveries were made and there have been several acquisitions of these bottles that truly date back way before both Roman and Greek influences in the region!

These bottles, without doubt, were used to store tears. What led to the discovery that these were stored in the tomb in ancient cities, and it was concluded that mourning women used them to store their tears to express both sadness and respect to their deceased loved ones, or when their beloved ones went to war or on long journeys, in fear of losing them.  There is a myth regarding the bottles inside the tombs; that the more ‘tears bottles’ there were in the tomb the more important is the person in the afterlife. Meaning that by having lots of ‘tear bottles’, you’re mourned and remembered by those who are alive, which gives the deceased more significance in the afterlife.

There are many samples of these glass vials found in several ancient cities in Jordan. Such as Gerasa (modern day Jerash).  It was discovered that the “‘tear bottles” ’ and other glass objects in Gerasa were in fact made from recycled glass that originated from Palestine. All of these bottles are preserved by the ministry of antiquity in Jordan and are displayed in museums.

It’s astonishing how the tears and the sorrows of women from multiple ancient civilizations are immortalized through these bottles, for regardless of the amount of time that has passed, women are still remembered by their ‘tear bottles’ that are preserved..

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