Ancient Roman Glass Candlestick Unguentarium


An Ancient Roman pale blue, translucent unguentarium with some weathering and mother of pearl iridescence to the surface. The vessel sits on a slightly concave base and rises into a triangular body with convex sides. A long, narrow cylindrical neck sits above with a thick over-splayed rim. A shallow and thin groove runs horizontally across the body.

Date: 1st – 3rd Century AD
Condition: Very good condition. Two minor hairline fractures to the upper section of the neck.


SKU: MG-78 Category: Tags: , ,

Unguentaria were amongst the most common objects of Roman blown glass: produced in large numbers, they were items of everyday use for keeping expensive perfumes and cosmetic oils. The small body and mouth were ideal for slow, careful pouring, while glass was preferred for holding liquids, due to its non-porous, non-absorbent nature. By the 1st century AD, the technique of glass-blowing had revolutionised the art of glass-making. The new technique allowed craftsmen to use smaller amounts of glass for each vessel and obtain much thinner walls, so enabling the creation of small medicine, incense, and perfume containers in new forms. Different minerals were added to create a variety of colours; the blue tint seen in this piece would have been created by adding cobalt oxide and copper oxide. These small glass (or ceramic) 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: Ancient Roman Glass and Collecting Roman Glass.

Weight 89.3 g
Dimensions W 6.5 x H 18.2 cm



Reference: For a similar item, please see The Metropolitan Museum, item 74.51.20

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