Roman, early Imperial period, ca. 1st century CE. Free blown from a translucent aubergine glass, this is a gorgeous aryballos with its original bronze chain joined to a ring around the applied twin handles. The chain is made of looped, tightly woven rings of bronze and was made to hang the vessel while it was in use or storage. The body of the glass vessel is globular, with a round base and short neck; the rim is wide and flat, rolled down at its interior and exterior edge. The applied glass handles are thick, each with a curved, striated form. Size: 2.55" W x 2.95" H (6.5 cm x 7.5 cm); 5.25" H (13.3 cm) on included custom stand.
This style of vessel was made for carrying oil to a public bath, part of the ritual of bathing that included rubbing the body with oil mixed with fine sand and then wiping it clean with a long, flat instrument with a sharp edge called a strigil. Many other aryballoi are heavy, but this one has a delicacy that speaks to the skill of the artisan who made it. This vessel was made using the glassblowing technique that revolutionized the glass industry in ancient Rome, taking it from a small, specialized production limited to a few local regions to a huge consumer technology in the mid-first century CE. Where items would once have been made of pottery, suddenly they were made of glass, which became omnipresent in Roman life. Examples of aryballoi like this one with their bronze chains still present are very rare.
A similar example hammered for $10,000 at Christie's, New York Antiquities Auction (sale 12256, April 12, 2016, lot 95): https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/ancient-art-antiquities/a-roman-glass-aryballos-circa-2nd-century-5984843-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=5984843&sid=6aee95cc-3813-47db-802f-1e2905d1d8f6
For another similar example, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 17.194.193: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/249437
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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