Spanish colonists used olive jars to ship olive oil, wine, honey and other goods. Archaeologists rarely find intact jars. This olive jar is also unique because of the painted red “R”, likely the maker’s initial.
Olive jars were the ubiquitous storage and shipping containers for the Spanish-American colonies and evolved in shape and manufacturing technique over four centuries. They were used to ship olive oil, wine, honey, soap and other items. This particular one is an early style olive jar identified by its unique rim shape, handles and two-part manufacturing technique. It was found in the Dominican Republic and dates to the 16th century. It’s rare to find fully intact olive jars, and what makes this one even more unique is the “R” painted in red, which is likely the initial of the vessel’s maker.
Collection Manager, Historical Archaeology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Spanish Olive Jar
From Ciudad Trujillo, Dominica Republic
Dates to AD 1500–1570
Spanish Colonial Archaeology