A fine Roman glass bottle featuring a piriform body, cylindrical pinched neck and folded rim. The vessel has been blown from aqua coloured glass and displays its original translucency with areas of mother of pearl like iridescence. Circa 1st - 2nd Century AD.
This vessel is particularly well-formed. A fine example of Roman glassmaking techniques.
Condition: Complete and intact; no chips or cracks. Almost perfect in form. Clear aqua glass. Much iridescence. Areas of calcium deposits that could easily be removed with a damp cloth to reveal further iridescent colours.
Provenance: Ex. Barbara Dawkins collection, Mayfair, London, UK. Barbara was companion to one of the Schröder family, who settled in London and founded the investment bank Schroders. She travelled all over the world during the 1950's and 1960's, often on the great liners like the Queen Mary 1 and Queen Elizabeth 1. She purchased antiques and curios during her travels which have passed by descent, in this case to her niece.
Unguentaria are a type of Roman bottle made of free-blown glass. They were produced in large numbers across the Roman Empire and since they contained valuable liquids, were considered precious at the time and used both in private life and public ceremonies. They are frequent finds in archaeological contexts particularly in Roman cemeteries. The iridescence on ancient Roman glass was unintentional, and was caused by weathering on its surface. The extent to which a glass object weathers depends mainly on the burial conditions; however, the humidity, heat, and type of soil in which the glass was buried also all affect its preservation. In this case, the glass has preserved its original translucency.
Glass bottles were the preferred material for storing expensive liquids and medicines because they were non porous. The shaped body and mouth allowed the user to carefully pour and control the amount of liquid dispensed. By the 1st century AD, the technique of glass-blowing had revolutionised the art of glass-making, allowing for the production of small medicine, incense, and perfume containers in new forms. The liquids which filled these vessels would have come from all corners of the Roman Empire. This example has a particularly fine shape with excellent clarity of the glass. A lovely piece.
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