Roman Green Glass Double Balsamarium with Basket Handle


A finely blown, ancient Roman, green glass, double balsamarium, composed of two conjoined tubular phials. Each tubular compartments features slightly tapering walls and thickened rims. The phials conjoin at their base, ending in a rounded bottom. A basket handle features at the top, with its two ends attached to each side of the rim in the same coloured glass. Small bubbles of trapped air from the blowing process add further interest to the glass. Beautiful iridescence covers part of the body.

Please note the piece cannot stand unaided.

Date: Circa 4th-5th century AD
Provenance: Acquired 1980-2015. Ex Abelita family collection.
Condition: Fine condition. Beautiful iridescence along with slight encrustations visible on the surface. Hairline cracks to the body. Chip to the bottom.

In stock

SKU: CY-189 Category: Tags: ,

The balsamarium is a variant of the typical Roman glass unguentarium. They were small glass bottles, used as containers for ointments, powders, balms, and other liquids associated with the toilet, especially perfumes: the small mouth of the two flasks are ideal for slow, careful pouring, while glass was preferred for holding liquids, due to its non-porous, non-absorbent nature. Balsamaria were made through the glass blowing process, which involved using a hollow clay or metal tube to gather molten glass into a sphere. By blowing air inside it, the glass worker created a hollow sphere, which would have then been stretched with the aid of gravity and metal tools into an elongated tube. The deep lines seen on the glass’ handles would have been created when the glass worker stretched the glass with tweezers.

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

Weight 89.2 g
Dimensions W 7.3 x H 15.2 cm



Reference: For a similar item, The University of Colorado Art Museum, USA, item 2008.18.02.18

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