Ancient Roman Glass Cosmetic Flask with Trail Decoration


A translucent, Roman, light blue glass cosmetic flask with trail decoration. The vessel has an out-splayed rim which is folded out, leading to a cylindrical neck flaring gently downwards to join the piriform body and ending with a flat base. A single trail has been applied to the neck and wound around the entire length of the flask in a continuous spiral pattern. The flask is covered with a brilliant silver iridescence.

Date: Circa 4th-5th century AD
Condition: Good condition. Earthy encrustations to the surface. The bottom of the flask has a small glass stump suggesting that the flask might have come with a thicker base that has broken off.

In stock

Ancient glass making stretches from 1500 BC to AD 500, beginning initially in Mesopotamia. Glass objects made in early periods were predominately found in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Glass was considered a luxury product and reserved for use by the elites. However, with the advent of glass blowing invented in ancient Sidonian Phoenicia and applied widely in Roman glass production during the Augustan period, glassware became affordable and widely used by ordinary Romans. Bottles, household containers, and tableware in a variety of shapes, sizes and colour were now readily available.

Made up from a majority of silica, different coloured glass could be achieved through the addition of metal and minerals. For instance,  cobalt-based compounds yielded blue glass; copper alloys yielded green glass; calcium antimonate produced an opaque white colour and lead antimonate gave an opaque yellow colour. The most commonly found Roman, blue-green hue is a result of the presence of natural iron oxide impurities in the sand used in the production of natural Roman glass.

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

Weight 14.47 g
Dimensions W 2.7 x H 7.7 cm



Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 81.10.183

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