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“Empress” pepper pot from the Hoxne hoard
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Pepper and spices have been highly valued and traded for thousands of years. This ornate Roman gilded silver pepper pot was one of four pepper pots found in the Hoxne hoard, the richest find of treasure ever found in Britain.

Pepper was grown in India and came to the Roman world by sea across the Indian Ocean from India to Egypt, along with other spices and luxuries. Piperatoria, the special containers for this expensive spice, are very rare finds. This example takes the form of a hollow silver bust of an imperial lady of the late Roman period, probably a generic imperial image rather than a portrait of a specific empress. The pot has a disc in the base which could be turned to three positions: one closed, one with large openings to enable the pot to be filled with ground pepper, and a third which revealed groups of small holes for sprinkling.

“Empress” pepper pot from the Hoxne hoard


From Hoxne, Suffolk, buried in the V century AD
Ht 10,3 cm.

Treasure Trove, acquired with the aid of major grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, J. Paul Getty Trust, British Museum Friends, Goldsmiths Charitable Trust, Lloyds Private Banking and many donations from private individuals.



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