Ancient, Islamic, and Medieval Glass
Transparent glass bowl of fruit from wall painting
in Bedroom M of the Villa Boscoreale, an ancient
Roman villa, located in the town of Boscoreale,
about two kilometers outside Pompeii in Campania.
Ancient Glass for sale at Forum Ancient
Ancient Glass on the Classical Numismatics
Ancient glass making spans a period from 1500 B.C. to 500 A.D., and Egypt and the Mesopotamian region had workshops from the beginning of this period. Important manufacturers rose to prominence in the period from 1400-800 B.C. The exceptional glass production during the Egyptian XVII Dynasty is classified as magnificent. Vases, flasks, amphoriskoi, goblets, and jugs are among the types of multicolored vessels made. Beads and inlays were used on King Tutankhamen's mask. This is one of the high points of glass making in ancient times.
Achaemenid glass production was elaborate, with amphoriskoi, alabastra, and glass beads being made during the 6th century B.C. on the Syrian coast.
The Augustan age of the Roman empire starts the beginning of glass production in the modern sense. The invention of the blowpipe in Sidonian Phoenicia marks this 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 of some kind, and therefore much of it has survived to be available today at reasonable prices. Roman glass tear vials in relatively nice quality are valued at $100 to $150 apiece.
In collecting glass objects the collector should be aware how glass was made. The earliest vessels were called core vessels. These were produced by pouring melted glass into a clay core, which was 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, Finally the clay core was removed after cooling.
The technique for producing molded vessels and amulets were primarily used up to the 1st century B.C. This process used a mold, or a process called the lost wax process, also used in making metal objects.
In the blowpipe process, still used today, hot glass is gathered at the end of a hollow tube through which air is blown. This produces the various shapes found today. Using this simple procedure into the still pliable glass. Only master craftsmen could perform this difficult process.
Mold-blown glass is manufactured by heating glass, and blowing it into a mold with a pipe.
Cameo glass is made by a process in which one white, opaque color layers a design on another opaque surface. The artisan would then cut away the upper potion to create a design.
Millefiori and mosaic glass process is accomplished by pounding long threads of glass of contrasting design and color, creating a cross section design, often with floral, geometric, or animal motifs. After heating, this bundle is called a cane. It is then sliced and used as inlays. These could be used in outer designs of vessels, beads, or inlays.
Glass bead production was extensive throughout this period. The glass beads were popular, and were worn by all of society. Clear glass, eye beads (produced by Phoenicians), Millefiori, mold-made pendants, confetti beads, gold flake beads, and many polychrome-surfaced glass beads were widely made; these are popular collectibles today.
Types of Glass Vessels:
dropper flask - see sprinkler.
Glass Features of Technique, Style and Decoration:
blue dots - see colored blobs.
buckle - see neck coil.
dots - see colored blobs.
cut-out fold - see projecting roll.
feathered pattern - see embedded thread.
feet - see pinched toes.
fire rounded rim
folded stemmed foot
horizontal grooves - see engraved.
lug - see pinched ribs.
mouth - see rim.
natural blue green glass
nipt - see pinched projections.
strongly colored glass
pattern mold - see pattern-blowing.
pinched projections - see pinched warts and nipt decorations.
pinched ribs and lugs
pinched feet - see pinched toes.
pinched warts - see pinched projections and nipt decorations.
pontil scar - see pontil mark.
pushed-in hollow base ring - see base ring.
pushed in solid base ring - see base ring.
ring-shaped pontil mark - see pontil mark.
serpentineform trails - see snake-thread.
spiral trail - see spiral coil.
spiral thread - see embedded thread and thread-wound.
threaded - see thread and embedded thread.
toes - see pinched toes.
tubular pontil mark - see pontil mark.
wavy coil - see crinkly coil.
wavy thread - see crinkly coil.
wheel incised lines - see wheel-cut.
zigzag - see blue zigzag and freestanding zigzag.
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