These small vaselike vessels for perfume were originally made of stone found near Alabastron, Egypt. The stone itself, a form of calcium carbonate, came to be known by the name Alabastron. The jar shown here was discovered in Egypt and dates from somewhere between 150 B.C.E. and 100 C.E. A less costly material, such as gypsum, was used to make similar-looking jars; these too were called alabasters, simply because of the use to which they were put. However, cases made of genuine alabaster were used for the more costly ointments and perfumes, like those with which Jesus was anointed on two occasions—once at the house of a Pharisee in Galilee and once at the house of Simon the leper in Bethany.
© Trustees of the British Museum. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=449197&partId=1&searchText=1888,0601.16