Ancient Roman jar riddled with mystery

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An ancient clay vessel reconstructed from pieces discovered at a Canadian museum is riddled with tiny holes, leaving archaeologists baffled over what it was used for.

The jar, just 16 inches (40 centimeters) tall and dating back about 1,800 years, was found shattered into an unrecognizable 180 pieces in a storage room at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. But even after it was restored, the scientists were faced with a mystery. So far no one has been able to identify another artifact like it from the Roman world.  

The jar may have held rodent snacks for ancient Romans, or even served as a lamp, the researchers speculate, though no theory definitively holds water. 

Archival research indicates the jar was among artifacts from Roman Britain (the part of Great Britain under Roman control from about A.D. 43 to 410) that were given to the museum in the 1950s by William Francis Grimes, an archaeologist who died in 1988. Grimes' team had dug them out of a World War II bomb crater in London, England, not far from an ancient temple dedicated to Mithra, an Iranian god who was popular throughout the Roman Empire.

Urban cautioned, however, that it is not certain the jar is from that dig. The vessel does not appear to be on the list of artifacts received from Grimes, although she added that the jar was found in 180 pieces and the list was short on details....  

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