What was this vase used for?

Did you ever notice these vases in the ancient courtyards dotting the hills and countryside of Verona? Nowadays they are often filled with soil and used as flower pots, and once I even saw one turned into a fish pond!

These funny-looking vessels have an equally funny name, centenar, and it is not often that you find them still furnished with their wooden lid. These stone vessels were originally used to store oil. In the Valpolicella region they were often made of stone quarried in the nearby town of Prun. The name centenar derives from the Late Latin centenarius, indicating a “one hundred-pound vessel”, because this was the volume of oil that it could hold. In the Middle Ages, oil was measured in pounds, but other units too were used in this region, such as the baceda, the galeta and the brenta. A pound at the time was roughly equal to 0.47 litres; a baceda was nine pounds (hence, 4.29 litres), a galeta usually equalled 4 baceda (roughly 17 litres) and only in a few areas and towns, 9. A brenta corresponded to 68.7 litres.

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