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Olive Oil Bottle

Sauces and condiments for foods were a necessity prior to 20th-century advances in food preservation and the later development of refrigeration. The foods available during the 19th century (and before) were often of dubious quality and taste, and were frequently bland, dictating the use of a wide array of condiments, oils and sauces to either enhance or disguise the flavor of tainted meats and other fare.

The food bottles shipped aboard the SS Republic represent a variety of the different shaped glass containers typically used for the edible fare accessible to the American consumer. The various classes of food bottles and jars from the era tended to share a number of common traits. Narrow mouthed bottles were often used for liquid food products including sauces and olive oil. Olive oil was typically stored in glass bottles that were cylindrical or round in cross-section. Such bottles also frequently contained other vegetable oils although olive oil was by far the most popular oil available during most of the period. Among the earliest styles closely identified with olive oil were bottles with a tall and narrow neck, often three times taller in the body than the width.

The excavation of the wreck site produced some two dozen examples featuring the distinctive long neck common to olive oil bottles of the era. Further, the neck of the bottle is embossed with what appears to be an olive branch motif, a fitting decoration for such bottles whose contents were essential to 19th-century cuisine.

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