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Roman Glass Flask

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: Roman
: 1st - 2nd century A.D.
: H: 5.3 cm – D: 9.6 cm

Ex-European private collection, imported into the US in 1992.


Complete; covered with iridescence; some earth covers part of the neck and handles.


This elegant glass vessel made in free blowing technique has a characteristic shape which could be a variant of vessels with globular body such as arrybaloi or ampullae. It is rather low compared to its considerable width, and the disk-like body looks compressed; there is no foot which is why the wall at the bottom is very thick – most probably the content of the vessel (perfumed oil or ointment used for bath or gymnasium) that dictated such a shape.

The object is well-built and proportioned, there is a good correspondence between the height of the body and the cylinder neck with the rim, also the thick and wide rim reflects the form of the pronounced shoulder. To complete the balance, two symmetrical handles were added to the space between the shoulder and the rim, their sculptural form (called the dolphin-type handles) contrasts with the geometric shapes beautifully.

Once there was a stopper to keep the oil from spilling and evaporating; some examples preserved the bronze rings and chain for carrying the vessel.



ANTONARAS A., Fire and Sand, Ancient Glass in the Princeton University Art Museum, New Haven, London, 2012, p. 251, nos. 409-410.

Glass of the Ancient World: The Ray Winfield Smith Collection, Corning, 1957, pp. 119-120, no. 203.

WHITEHOUSE D., Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, vol. 2, New York, 1997, p. 201, no. 351.


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