Latin for “bucket” or “pail,” a situla (plural: situlae) is an elaborate vessel, shaped like a bucket. Typically made of bronze, they often had a handle at their top. situlae appear throughout the ancient Mediterranean and European worlds—in a variety of sizes. Although it was not their only purpose, for several millennia situlae were used in religious settings—from ancient Egyptian libation rites to medieval Christian liturgy (for holding holy water). The pictured situla comes from Har Mizpe Yammim in northern Israel and dates to the Persian-period (sixth–fourth centuries B.C.E.). Its inscription identifies it as a Phoenician votive offering from “Akbor son of Bodeshmun made to Astarte, because she heard his voice.”
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