Roman Blue Glass Cosmetic Tube


An Ancient Roman glass cosmetic tube in dark blue opaque glass. It is modelled in a tubular shape, with a smoothly-rounded interior. The exterior, consists of thick glass walls formed of heavily-twisted glass. Two handles are featured by the neck and rim. The vessel stands on a slightly rounded integral base. One of the sides of the vessel is almost entirely covered by iridescence giving the vessel a greyish-green tint. This side of the item presents a minor chip on its body’s surface and the top of the handle is missing.

The item is accompanied with a custom made stand for display.

Date: 5th - 6th Century AD
Condition: Fine condition. Missing tip of one handle and minor chip to body. Earth encrustations to rear end consistent with age.

In stock

SKU: AS-1431 Category: Tags: ,

The balsamarium is a variant of the typical Roman glass unguentarium. Produced in large numbers, they were items of every day use for holding and storing perfumed oils, as well as other expensive liquids and powders. The small body and mouth allowed the user carefully to 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. Glass was often the preferred material for storing oils because it was not porous. These small glass bottles are found frequently at Hellenistic and Roman sites, especially in cemeteries, and the perfumes which filled them would have been gathered from all corners of the expansive Roman Empire.

To find out more about Roman glass please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Roman Glass.

Weight 59.2 g
Dimensions H 11 cm



Reference: For a similar item, see:  tube 50.1558, page 147; Ancient Glass at the Newark Museum; Susan H. Auth / item 233; The Constable-Maxwell Collection of Ancient Glass; Sotheby's 1979.

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