Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st century CE. A beautiful and petite semi-opaque flask formed with multiple strands of near-colorless and opaque white glass. The vessel is comprised of a slight concave base with a smooth pontil, an ovoid body, a tubular neck, and a splayed rim. The wavy strands of glass which constitute the body form an elegant undulating design across the exterior, tracing upwards onto the neck, and ultimately terminating at the narrow mouth. The exterior is nicely complemented by faint areas of silvery and rainbow iridescence, and dark interior earthen deposits are visible through thinner areas of the body. A gorgeous example of high-quality glass-work from the Roman Empire! Size: 2.5" W x 3.75" H (6.4 cm x 9.5 cm).
Ancient glass manufacture had begun in the 2nd millennium BCE in Mesopotamia and Egypt. The Greeks and Phoenicians advanced glass technology greatly in the latter 1st millennium BCE. In the early 1st century CE, Roman workshops began producing blown glass on a large scale. Eventually glass vessels came to replace a wide variety of pottery and metal wares in the ancient world. Ancient Roman glass was traded far beyond the Roman Empire. Roman glass vessels have been found in Scandinavia, India, and in Han Dynasty tombs in China.
Pliny the Elder paid homage to the beauty of the many hues created in hand-blown glass, including white, as well as colorless translucent glass, "There is, furthermore, opaque white glass and others that reproduce the appearance of fluor-spar, blue sapphires or lapis lazuli, and, indeed, glass exists in any color . . . However, the most highly valued glass is colorless and transparent, as closely as possible resembling rock-crystal." (Pliny, Natural History XXXVI.198 from "Solid Liquid" catalogue, Fortuna Fine Arts, New York, 1999, p. 64.)
Published: Fortuna Fine Arts, Ltd. “Solid Liquid: Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic Glass.” New York, 1999, p. 55, fig. 78
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, one stress fissure on base, one small hole through lower half of body, with light discoloration, and small nicks to rim, body, and base. Nice earthen deposits as well as fabulous silver and rainbow iridescence throughout.