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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 Coins

Ancient Glass on the Classical Numismatics Discussion


Ancient Glass

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:

alabastron
amphora
amphoriskos
ampulla
aryballos
askos
beaker
bottle
bowl
cage cup
cone
cameo
cantharus
cup
dish
dropper flask - see sprinkler.
flask
Frontinus bottle
goblet
guttus
Hofheim cup
honeycomb bowl
jar
jug
kohl tube
krateriskos
kylix
lenticular bottle
lentoid
mastos
modiolus
oinochoe
patella
phiale
phiale mesomphalos
polycandela
pyxis
scyphus
spouted bottle
sprinkler
trulla
tube
candlestick unguentarium
unguentarium
urn


Glass Features of Technique, Style and Decoration:

base ring
bifurcated handle
colored blobs
blue dots - see colored blobs.
blue zigzag
buckle - see neck coil.
carinated
carination
coil
collar rim
colorless
core-formed
crinkly coil
dots - see colored blobs.
cut-out fold - see projecting roll.
diachroism
dolphin handle
double mould-blown
embedded thread
engraved
everted rim
facet-cut
faience
feathered pattern - see embedded thread.
feet - see pinched toes.
fine-grained decoration
fire-closed
fire rounded rim
flattened rim
flecks
folded stemmed foot
folded rim
free-blown
freestanding zigzag
gold-band
gold-glass
handle
horizontal grooves - see engraved.
indents
intaglio
kicked bottom
looped trail
lug - see pinched ribs.
marvered
moile
mosaic glass
mold-blown
mouth - see rim.
natural blue green glass
neck coil
nicked trail
nipt - see pinched projections.
overlay
strongly colored glass
pattern-blown
pattern mold - see pattern-blowing.
pincered trail
pinched projections
pinched warts - see pinched projections.
pinched ribs and lugs
pinched toes
pinched feet - see pinched toes.
piriform
pontil
pontil mark
pontil scar - see pontil mark.
projecting roll
prunt
pushed-in hollow base ring - see base ring.
pushed in solid base ring - see base ring.
reeded handle
ribbed handle
ribs
rim
rim coil
ring-shaped pontil mark - see pontil mark.
rod-formed
scratching
serpentineform trails - see snake-thread.
shards
snake-thread
spectacle pattern
spiral coil
spiral ribbing
spiral trail - see spiral coil.
spiral thread - see embedded thread and thread-wound.
thread
threaded - see thread and embedded thread.
thread-wound
toes - see pinched toes.
trifurcated handle
tubular pontil mark - see pontil mark.
U-shaped mouth
wavy coil - see crinkly coil.
wavy thread - see crinkly coil.
wheel-abraded
wheel-cut
wheel incised lines - see wheel-cut.
zigzag - see blue zigzag and freestanding zigzag.


Glass Conditions of Preservation:

complete
intact
crizzled
iridescence
reconstructed
restored
weathering


Glass References in the Forum Ancient Coins Library:

Allen, D. Roman Glass in Britain. (Buckinghamshire, 1998).
Auth, S. Ancient Glass at the Newark Museum. (Newark, 1977).
Berger, V.L. Römische Gläser Aus Vindonissa. (Basel, 1960).
Bomford, J. Ancient Glass: The Bomford Collection of Pre-Roman and Roman Glass on loan to the City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. (Bristol, 1976).
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 July 1991.
Corning Museum of Glass, Journal of Glass Studies.
Davidson, S. Conservation and Restoration of Glass. (Cornwall, 2003).
Ettinghausen, R. Ancient Glass in the Freer Gallery of Art. (Smithsonian Institution, 1962).
Flemming, S.J. Roman Glass, Reflections on Cultural Change. (Warminster, 1999).
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: Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co, 1979).
Harden, D. Ancient Glass, I: Pre-Roman, The Archaeological Journal, Volume CXXV, 1969 (reprinted).
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).
Kocaba Koleksiyonu, H. Catalogue of Glass in The Hüsyin Kocaba Collection. Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayinlari. (Istanbul, 1984).
Isings, C. Roman Glass From Dated Finds. (1957).
Isings, C. Roman Glass in Limburg. Archaeologica Traiectina. (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).
la Baume, P. & J. Willem Salomonson. Romische Kleinkunst Sammlung Karl Loffler. Römisch-Germanischen Museum. (Cologne, 1977).
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).
Nolte, B. Die Glasgefäße im Alten Ägypten. Münchner Ägyptologische Studien 14. Verlag Bruno Hessling. (Berlin, 1968).
Oliver, A. Ancient Glass: Ancient and Islamic Glass in the Carnegie Museum. (Carnegie Museum of Art, 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).
Shurmer, J. The Golden age of Venetian Glass. (British Museum Publications, London, 1979).
Sotheby's Sale. Ancient Glass, London, Sale 3242, London, 20 November 1987.
Sotheby's Sale. Important Ancient Glass from the Collection formed by the British Rail Pension Fund, London, 24 November 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).
Tait, H., ed. Five Thousand Years of Glass, revised edition. (Philadelphia, 2004).
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 Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg & Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Koln. (Hamburg, 1974).
Whitehouse, D. Islamic Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Volume One. (Rochester, 1997).
Whitehouse, D. Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasants, The Corning Museum of Glass. (Corning, 2010).
Whitehouse, D. Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired by Ancient Rome. (Corning, 2007).
Whitehouse, D. Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Volume One. (Rochester, 1997).
Whitehouse, D. Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Volume Two. (Rochester, 2001).
Whitehouse, D. Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Volume Three. (Rochester, 1997).
Whitehouse, D. Sasanian and Post-Sasanian Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Volume One. (Manchester, 1997).
Yücel, A,. et al. Catalog of Glass in the Hüseyin Kocaba Collection. (Istanbul, 1984).