Ancient Roman Glass Candlestick Unguentarium


A miniature Ancient Roman candlestick unguentarium blown from translucent glass. The vessel features a flattened, everted rim and a short cylindrical neck tapering in gradually at the shoulder with a slight twist. The shoulder flares out forming a domed body, which sits above a flat, wide disc shaped base. Mother of pearl-like iridescences is visible to the surface along with opaque weathering.

Date: Circa 1st - 3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex S.M collection, London, 1970-2010.
Condition: Fine condition. Earth encrustations on surface and interior.


SKU: HB-32 Category: Tag:

Unguentaria were amongst the most common objects of Roman blown glass: produced in large numbers, they were items of everyday use for keeping expensive unguents and cosmetic oils. 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. The small body and mouth allowed the user to carefully pour and control the amount of liquid dispensed. Glass was the material of choice for storing the oils because it was not porous. 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 Ancient Roman glass please visit our relevant blog post: Ancient Glass.

Weight 3.6 g
Dimensions L 3.7 x W 2.5 cm



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