Pyxis (Greek: πύξις): Roman and modern name for a small, cylindrical box containing jewels.

A pyxis from Trier

A pyxis is typically a cylindrical box with a lid, used to contain jewelry, perfume bottles, cosmetics, or even poison.note They were already made in the Bronze Age and the Greeks called them kylichnis. In the Geometric Age, they were usually made of pottery, and often were decorated with symbols of wealth (e.g, horses). Later, the Romans started to call them pyxis, "object of boxwood". By then, they were made from silver, gold, mother-of‑pearl, tortoise-shell, ivory, and of course wood.

On paintings, we sometimes observe women with a pyxis, as if those boxes were only used by ladies. The decoration of the pyxides, however, shows men and women. In Late Antiquity and the Byzantine age, pyxis was the name for a cylindrical box used to transport consecrated bread.

This page was created in 2019; last modified on 28 February 2020.