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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; $1350.00 (€1201.50)
 


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; $650.00 (€578.50)
 


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; $650.00 (€578.50)
 


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; $400.00 (€356.00)
 


Pre-Roman and Early Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass

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One of the most important and sought-after volumes on early Roman glass that has been produced in English. With more than 17,000 glass objects, the Corning Museum of Glass is one of the world's most comprehensive collections. Dr. Goldstein, the Curator of Ancient Glass, has provided an essential guide to ancient glass in existence prior to the innovation of the blowpipe. With an introductory background, this book catalogues 919 items from all areas of the Pre-Roman and Roman world.
BU50729. Pre-Roman and Early Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass by Sidney M. Goldstein, 312 pages, 42 plates majority in color, 919 items catalogued, 1979, out of print and can be hard to find, worn and torn dust jacket, USED, ex libris Alex G. Malloy; $140.00 (€124.60)
 


Roman (Rhineland Workshop), 2 Clear Cut Glass Fragments, Late 3rd - Mid 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.

Facet-cut decorative patterns were used primarily on colorless glass vessels. Ancient facet-cuts were usually concave circular, oval or elongated "rice" facets. Interlocking facets can create lozenge shapes or hexagons. The technique was probably invented in Italy in the last quarter of the first century A.D. The earliest facet-cut vessels have facets over the entire surface. Around 250 A.D. it became popular to facet-cut only areas of the vessel. Shallow wheel-abraded facets are were used on some forth century tableware. Around the mid-forth century in Scandinavia, Germany and Mesopotamia distinctive styles developed with thick-walled vessels with deep facets.
AA32382. 2 clear wheel-cut bowl fragments, cf. Harden 1987 106v, Constable-Maxwell 120., Choice, 6.3 cm (2 1/2") by 5.4 cm (1 1/8"), band of wheel-cut horizontal lines and two facet-cut rows of rice-shaped facets; second fragment with cross hatch pattern; $100.00 (€89.00)
 


Phoenician (Palistinian Workshop), 4 Stamped Glass Votive Fragments, 1st Century B.C. - 1st Century A.D.

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

These votive pieces were made to be ritually broken before offering in the altar of the god or distribution in fields for fertility or under building foundations for good fortune. They are almost always found broken.
AA32416. 4 glass votive stamped fragements, partial images of male god; $100.00 (€89.00)
 


Roman (Rhineland Workshop), 3 Clear Cut Glass Fragments, 2nd 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.

Wheel-cut decorative patterns were used primarily on colorless glass vessels. The wheel cut lines vary in depth, width and length and may be rounded or v-shaped, and the most common form is a series of horizontal lines. The technique has been used since the Hellenistic period. Wheel-incised geometric patterns were especially popular in the fourth century.
AA32384. 3 clear faceted bowl shards, Choice, wheel cut lines, in rectangles with cross hatched sectioned, one 4.4 cm (1 3/4") and two 3.8 cm (1 1/2"); $90.00 (€80.10)
 


Roman Syro-Palestinian, Glass Stamped Medallion Pendant, c. Mid 4th - Mid 5th Century A.D.

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

Many of these small glass medallions with stamped motifs and suspension loops, mass produced c. mid 4th to mid 5th century A.D., have been found, from Asia Minor, through the Levante, and as far west as Tunisia. Motifs are based on mythology, magic, and the Old and New Testaments. Colors include amber, blue, green and purple. They were used as pendants and earrings. The same stamps were also used on glass bracelets and on bottles.
AA32391. Glass pendant, cf. Corning III 871 (amber); 1.9 cm long, clear blue, facing head of Medusa with snake hair, beautiful iridescence, loop broken, $75.00 (€66.75)
 


Christie's, Ancient Glass, The Kolfer-Truniger Collection, March 5, 1985

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Kolfer-Truniger collection of ancient Glass; includes tiles, free-blown glass, mould-blown glass vessels, cameo fragments, mosaic glass, etc. from the Byzantine empire, Roman, Hellenistic, Egyptian, and Mediterranean.
BK65087. Christie's, Ancient Glass, The Kolfer-Truniger Collection, March 5, 1985, hardback, 174 pages with 348 lots mostly illustrated in color and all described in detail; $70.00 (€62.30)
 







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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 Thursday, February 23, 2017.
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Ancient Glass