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Ampulla

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Ampulla

Eulogy ampulla representing St. Menas and St. Thecla (terracotta, 6th century, Louvre Museum)

An ampulla (plural "ampullae") was, in Ancient Rome, a "small nearly globular flask or bottle, with two handles" (OED). The word is used of these in archaeology, and of later flasks, often handle-less and much flatter, for holy water or holy oil in the Middle Ages, often bought as souvenirs of pilgrimages, such as the metal Monza ampullae of the 6th century. Materials include glass, ceramics and metal. Unguentarium is a term for a bottle believed to have been used to store perfume, and there is considerable overlap between the two terms, one defined by shape and the other by purpose.

The glass Holy Ampulla was part of the French coronation regalia and believed to have divine origins. Similar, but far more recent, is the Ampulla in the British Crown Jewels, a hollow, gold, eagle-shaped vessel from which the anointing oil is poured by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the anointing of a new British sovereign at their coronation.


In Anatomy

An ampulla in anatomical terms refers to a cavity, or the dilated end of a duct, shaped like a Roman ampulla. Some examples of these are the Ampulla of vater, the rectal ampulla, and the ampulla of the uterus.

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