Antiquities > Ancient Glass

Turkish, 2nd Century C.E., Unguentarium?

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Robby R:
A auction and appraisal-service called Barneby's was unable to find "any parallels" for this one and failed to live up to any of its expectations or answer any of my questions, so it is my hope that someone here can help.

Now, if you see below, you will see a similar example I was able to find, which dates to around the first to third century C.E. and came out of what is now Turkey.

I should like to think the amount of wear and the patination, or as I usually call it, mineralisation, on the base is correct with deterioration and silicates leaching out over 1,800 years, but has this degree of environmental damage yet been replicated by forgers?

Also, the interior of the mouth shows a beautiful opal or pear-like coating, with some traces of it on the outside. Was the top once dipped in something to render it so beautiful? Or is this also just part of the scaling of minerals over the centuries? When I got it, the mouth was packed with rock-like dirt, which may have protected it all these years.

Further, as is seen in the mouth, the neck almost appears applied to a separate body. There appears to be a solder joint. Is this typical of Islamic bottles? If so, when did this process of pewter or sin soldering of glass pieces end?

Is my attribution of place and time fitting?

Thank you, and have a great day.

Joe Sermarini:
This one also looks to heavy for Roman. I think Byzantine, more likely Islamic, and I think 5th to 9th/11th century.  I don't want to try to assess the weathering from photos. That is hard enough in-hand.

Robby R:
Hello, and thank you for your reply.

Yes, I believe it to be Levantine, though the date attribution surprises me. What leads you to conclude that it is so much newer?

I believe the deterioration to be correct as one can see how the glass was not perfectly mixed when poured, for the silicates leaching out leave a sort of swirled deterioration pattern. Beyond this, some of it is so advanced that the bottle didn't hold water when I got it, as it had crumbled in portions (now repaired) due to the advanced deterioration. The base is rather flakey, and the pitting and staining very uneven. It is difficult to replicate it without uniformity, so this all lends credit to its potential for being ancient. Beyond this, the three types of "patination," as archaeologists incorrectly termed it, all appear correct for a dug bottle. I've seen two types replicated by man, but all three together I have never seen. One can easily apply a mineral scaling. One can stain the bottle and give it an oily sheen. But the flakey iridescence is more difficult to reproduce, especially when it is separate from flakey glass. Usually, an acid-dip just dulls the surface of the bottle uniformly.

Thank you, and have a great day.

Joe Sermarini:
It isn't easy to judge from a photo but it looks like thick heavy glass. Earlier, Roman glass is almost always light and very thin. You can see in the photo of the similar example you found how much thinner the glass is. Also, other than the basic shape, the similar example isn't very similar.

I agree with what you say about the weathering.  I have heard that the flakey iridescence has been reproduced, but I have never seen flaking that looks real but isn't (not that I know). I can't imagine how they would do it.

You write "Islamic bottles" and mention second century C.E. The Turks weren't in "Turkey" in the second century C.E. The Seljuck Turks started arriving from the steppes in about the sixth century. Or am I misunderstanding what you mean?


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