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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:4, Winter 2021

Strata: What Is It?

1. Byzantine coin

2. Oil flask

3. Seal impression

4. Christian amulet

5. Game piece

Answer: (2)

This oil flask, or ampulla, dates to the sixth century C.E. The Greek inscription specifies that it once contained “oil of the wood of life” acquired at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Such oil, which was supposedly poured over the relic of the true cross, was bottled to be sold to visiting pilgrims as a spiritually potent souvenir, allowing pilgrims to share in the sacred power of the holy site and the relic.

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