Sphero-conical vessels are commonly found in small quantities at medieval sites throughout the Near East. These relatively small vessels have a distinctive torpedo shape, sturdy walls, and a narrow, nipple-shaped opening. Several functions have been proposed for them, including incendiary devices, plumb bobs, aeolipiles in pottery kilns, the main part of a water pipe, and containers for precious liquids such as mercury, scented oils, ink, wine, or beer. We analyzed the organic residues preserved in the walls of four sphero-conical vessels excavated in twelfth–thirteenth century layers at Dvin, Armenia, using gas chromatography combined with mass spectrometry (GC-MS). These vessels all contained trace levels of fat and oils, findings that we interpret as theremains of scented oils. This interpretation adds support to the proposed primary function of these vessels as containers for perfumes but does not exclude the possibility that different vessels may have been used or reused for one or more of the other suggested purposes.
Barnard, Hans, Sneha Shah, Gregory E. Areshian, and Kym F. Faull. "Chemical Insights into the Function of Four Sphero-Conical Vessels from Medieval Dvin, Armenia." Muqarnas: An Annual On The Visual Cultures Of The Islamic World 33 (2016): 409-19.
Hans Barnard; Sneha Shah; Gregory Areshian; Kym Faull