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Inside the alabastron was a letter from Caton, to Lee, dated 28th July 1908. It was enclosed in a wax-sealed envelope inscribed ‘To be given to the recipient of the alabaster box (sic), after the death of my husband. Edith L (?) Elias, May
The letter reads:
My Dear Mr Lee,
I send herewith the Ancient Alabastron which was found in a tomb in Greece, and which is probably over 2,000 years old. I got it at Thebes.
In the narrative of Matthew, Mark and luke the words used in the English version are "Alabaster box", but in the original Greek, in each case, the expression is "Alabastron."
In the most ancient times these vessels were made of onyx alabaster, but later, and at the time of our Lord, they were commonly made of porcelain, but the earlier nae was retained. the oil, perfumed with myrrh and other precious scents, was retained in the alabastron by a seal of hard cement, and when the oil was to be used it was needful to "break the cement and often the neck or lip of the alabastron was broken,... latter has happened in the case of this particular alabastron, but it has been repaired, hence the phrase "to break the alabastron" which is found in the gospels. You will note the small square prominence, for the finger and thumb on each side of the alabastron.
There are a few of these ancient alabastrons in the British Museum, but none better than the one I sent you.
Excavated from a tomb in Thebes, Greece
Mr Holly Lee, Liverpool, UK; acquired 28th July 1908 from R Caton, thence by descent