Container (ampulla) in the form of a bear

Roman or Byzantine
Late Imperial to Late Antique Period
4th or 5th century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Greek, Etruscan, & Roman Bronzes (MFA), no. 486; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 125 (additional published references).


Height: 12.5 cm (4 15/16 in.); length: 11.5 cm (4 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World



The bear has a swivel-pin lid on the top of the head and a ring for suspension in the middle of his back. There are remains (the channels) of inlaid (silver?) sling-like straps to indicate a harness around the stomach and between the forelegs. Holes in the ears offset the vacuum created in pouring through the hole in the mouth. Green and brown patina, with remains of earthy encrustation, especially on the feet.
Bronze, originally inlaid with another material, perhaps silver.


By date unknown: Burton Y. Berry Collection (loaned to MFA by Burton Y. Berry, Esq., December 13, 1961) (said to come from the East Greek world); year-end gift of Burton Y. Berry to MFA, December 26, 1962

Credit Line

Gift of Burton Y. Berry