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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Antiquities ▸ Antiquities by Material ▸ Glass AntiquitiesView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Glass

Ancient glass making began in Egypt and the Mesopotamian region around 1500 B.C. Glass beads and inlays were even used on King Tutankhamen's mask. The earliest vessels were produced by forming melted glass on a clay core in the shape of the desired vessel. Hot threads of contrasting color were wrapped around the vessel, pressed, and combed to create a wavy pattern. The clay core was removed after cooling. The Augustan age of the Roman empire and invention of the blowpipe in Sidonian Phoenicia marked a turning point in glass production. Output could be increased a thousandfold with the introduction of new, exciting shapes. This technique quickly spread to Italy, and then throughout the empire. Roman glass was so popular that most Romans owned glass objects, and much has survived and is available today at reasonable prices.


Roman, Syro-Palestinian (Samaria?), Snake-Thread Flask, Late 2nd - Early 4th Century A.D.

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Snake-thread ornamentation originated in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire in the second half of the second century and its popularity peaked in the first half of the third century. Snake-thread decoration was revived in the second half of the fourth century in the east and in the west near Cologne in modern Germany. Serpentine form trails may vary in thickness, may be the same color as the vessel (usually colorless) or brightly colored (common in the West). Ontario Museum 309, with similar subtle snake-thread ornamentation, is attributed to Samaria, 3rd to early 4th century A.D.
AG63814. Snake thread flask, cf. Ontario Museum 309 (for similar ornamentation), 12.4 mm (4 7/8"), Complete and intact, funnel mouth with rolled rim, cylindrical neck, bulbous body, snake-thread ornamentation on the body, flat bottom; from a Florida dealer; $970.00 (€824.50)
 


Roman, Syro-Palestinian, Glass Sprinkler Jug, c. 3rd A.D.

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This form is missing from the major references but we know of other examples from the market.
AG63811. Sprinkler jug, 10.5 mm (4 1/8"), complete, tiny chip in handle (visible in photo), possibly a small rim repair or just flaked weathering, thick yellowish brown enamel-like weathering, free-blow, yellow-green glass, pyriform body, tubular neck, slight funnel mouth, washer-like constriction at the base of neck, handle attached below rim and below neck, kicked bottom with pontil mark; from a Florida dealer; $460.00 (€391.00)
 


Roman, Syro-Palestinian, Fusiform Unguentarium with Iridescence, c. 3rd - 5th Century A.D.

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Hayes' Ontario Museum catalog references many similar specimens, noting some are from Beirut. Our example is finer than most examples of similar form, many of which appear to be carelessly made. Hayes' dates the type 5th century or later. Perhaps the finer form indicates ours is earlier.
AG63806. Fusiform unguentarium, cf. Ontario Museum 461, complete, intact, much iridescence; 16.5 cm, spindle-shaped long tubular body, upper half is a neck narrowing slightly to folded and flattened rim, small shoulder at center, lower half is a narrow tubular body narrowing to a rounded point; from a Florida dealer; $420.00 (€357.00)
 


Roman, Glass Double Balsamarium, 4th Century A.D.

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From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years. Ex Robert Hass collection.

This contain was designed to hold two different cosmetics, probably eyeliner and eyeshadow.
AG32584. Double balsamarium, cf. Wolkenburg Collection 79, Ontario Museum 359 (no pinched projections), Carnegie Museum 197 (same), Choice, 12 cm (4 3/4"), clear aquamarine, double tube made by folding single tube, two snake-like handles attached at body on large blob with pinched projection snake tails, slighly flaring vessel mouths, rim folded in with no lip, some cracks; $350.00 (€297.50)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Glass Floral Inlay Fragment, 3rd - 1st Century B.C.

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From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years. Ex Robert Haas collection.
AA32380. Floral inlay glass fragment, cf. National Museums Scotland 492 - 493, 1.9 cm (3/4"), partial flower with three white pedals and center of yellow and clear dots, black background; rare; $300.00 (€255.00)
 


Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, Glass Bottle, c. 3rd Century A.D.

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AG63812. Glass bottle, cf. Ontario Museum 150; 8.3 cm (3 1/4") tall, complete, crack down from rim, toes chipped (will not stand), free-blown, pale green glass, fire rounded rim with projecting roll below, long neck narrowing slightly to bulbous body, base ring of pinched toes, stand not included; from a Florida dealer; $280.00 (€238.00)
 


Roman (Italian Workshop), Ribbon Glass Vessel Fragment, Late 1st Century B.C. - Early 1st Century A.D.

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From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years.
AA32431. Roman fine ribbon glass vessel 1 ¼" rim fragment; cf. Goldstein 542, Kofler-Truniger 215, a lovely and unusual pattern, yellow, blue green bands, and lined bands of green and white, rim is dotted white and black; $195.00 (€165.75)
 


Egyptian, 2 Millefiori Glass Fragments, 5th Century B.C.

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From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years.
AA32433. Egyptian millefiori fragment, 1 3/8" yellow and green-black twisted lines within red border, and early Western Asiatic triangular pendant fragment, very rare; $190.00 (€161.50)
 


Roman, Syro-Palestinian, Glass Miniature Juglet Amulet, c. 4th Century A.D.

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From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years. Ex Robert Haas collection. This and a few other ex Haas miniature jug amulets offered here may be ex Kofler-Truniger lot 204. They appear to be some of the same pieces but it is difficult to be certain from the small black and white catalog photo.

"Freestanding zigzag" is a decorative techinque consisting of a freestanding coil, usually zigzagged between the rim of the vessel and the shoulder forming an open lattice free standing above the vessel's neck. On this example it is standing over the body, elevated by two coils.

In the Ernesto Wolf Collection, Marianne Stern argues the distribution of this type of juglets, from the Holy Land to western Europe, indicates they were produced in Palestine as early Christian amulets and taken as relics or souvenirs from holy areas.
AG32442. Holyland glass juglet amulet; cf. Corning Museum of Glass III 962 (a gift to the museum from Robert Haas), Kofler-Truniger lot 204, Superb, a true Gem!, 2.5 cm (1"), dark blue glass body with coil at shoulder and another low on the base; clear glass rim, open handle and freestanding zigzag ornamentation forming lattice cage above the body; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Roman, 3 Glass Vessel Fragments, c. 1st Century A.D.

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From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years. Ex Robert Haas collection.
AA32465. 3 Roman glass fragments, Superb, 3.5 cm (1 3/8") ribbed fragment, white drawn up lines on dark clear brown background; 3.2 cm (1 1/4") ribbed fragment, white and light blue on clear blue; and 2.8 cm (1 1/8") fragment red and black streaks; $150.00 (€127.50)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Allen, D. Roman Glass in Britain. (Buckinghamshire, 1998).
Auth, S. Ancient Glass at the Newark Museum. (Newark, 1977).
Carboni, S. Glass from Islamic Lands: The Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait National Museum. (New York, 2001).
Carboni, S. & D. Whitehouse. Glass of the Sultans. (New York, 2001).
Christie's Sale. Ancient Glass Formerly the Kofler-Truniger Collection. 5 - 6 Mar 1985.
Christie's Sale. Wolkenburg Collection. 9 Jul 1991.
Corning Museum of Glass, Journal of Glass Studies.
Ettinghausen, R. Ancient Glass in the Freer Gallery of Art. (Smithsonian Institution, 1962).
Glass at the Fitzwilliam Museum, exhibition catalogue. (Cambridge, 1978).
Goldstein, S.M. Pre-Roman Glass and Early Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass. (Corning, 1979).
Grose, D.F. Toledo Museum of Art, Early Ancient Glass. (New York, 1989).
Grossmann, R. A. Ancient Glass: A Guide to the Yale Collection. (New Haven, CT, 2002).
Harden, D. Catalog of the Constable-Maxwell Collection of Ancient Glass. (London, 1979).
Harden, D. Ancient Glass, I: Pre-Roman, The Archaeological Journal, Vol. CXXV, 1969.
Harden, D. Glass of the Caesars. (Milan, 1987).
Harter, G. Römische Glaser Des Landesmuseums Mäinz. (Mainz, 1996).
Hayes, J. Roman and Pre-Roman Glass in the Royal Ontario Museum. (Toronto, 1975).
Isings, C. Roman Glass From Dated Finds. (1957).
Isings, C. Roman Glass in Limburg. (Gröningen, 1971).
Israeli, Y. Ancient Glass, Museum Haaretz Collection. (Tel-Aviv)
Kröger, J. Nishapur, Glass of the Early Islamic Period. (New York, 1995).
Kunina, N. Ancient Glass in the Hermitage Collection. (St Petersburg, 1997).
Lightfoot, C.S. Ancient Glass in National Museums Scotland. (Edinburgh, 2007).
Matheson, S. Ancient Glass in the Yale University Art Gallery. (Meriden, 1980).
Neuburg, F. Ancient Glass. (Toronto, 1962).
Nicholson, P.T. Egyptian Faience and Glass. (Buckinghamshire, 1993).
Oliver, A. Ancient Glass: Ancient and Islamic Glass in the Carnegie Museum. (1980).
Riefstahl, E. Ancient Egyptina Glass and Glazes in the Brooklyn Museum. (1968).
Saldern, A. Gläser der Antike: Sammlung Erwin Oppenländer: Katalog (Karlsruhe, Germany, 1975).
Sotheby's Sale. Ancient Glass, London, Sale 3242, London, 20 Nov 1987.
Sotheby's Sale. Important Ancient Glass from the Collection formed by the British Rail Pension Fund, London, 24 Nov 1997.
Sotheby's Sale. The Benzian Collection of Ancient and Islamic Glass, London, 7 July 1994.
Stern, M. Early Glass of the Ancient World, 1600 B.C. - A.D. 50, Ernesto Wolf Collection. (Ostfildern-Ruit, 1994).
Stern, M. Roman, Byzantine, and Early Medieval Glass, 10 BCE - 700 CE, Ernesto Wolf Collection. (Ostfildern-Ruit, 2001).
Von Saldern, A. Ancient Glass in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. (Meriden, 1968).
Von Saldern, A., et al. Glaser der Antike, Sammlung Erwin Oppenländer. Museum fur Whitehouse, D. Islamic Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Vol. 1. (Rochester, 1997).
Whitehouse, D. Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasants, The Corning Museum of Glass. (Corning, 2010).
Whitehouse, D. Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Vol. 1. (Rochester, 1997).
Whitehouse, D. Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Vol. 2. (Rochester, 2001).
Whitehouse, D. Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Vol. 3. (Rochester, 1997).
Whitehouse, D. Sasanian and Post-Sasanian Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass. (Manchester, 1997).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, October 17, 2018.
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Ancient Glass