Miniature Roman Glass Unguentarium


An extremely fine Roman miniature glass unguentarium, finely blown and completely covered in silvery-light blue mother of pearl like iridescence. The vessel features a flattened base, a round body, and a wide, flaring rim. Some earthly accretions to the surface.

Date: Circa 1st-2nd Century AD
Condition: Fine with a stabilised crack. Beautiful silver patination to the surface.


SKU: CS-128 Category: Tags: ,

Unguentaria were small perfume or cosmetics bottles made of blown glass. They were extremely popular throughout the Roman Empire, since they contained perfume and oil, considered precious at the time and often used both in private life and public ceremonies. Glass was often the preferred material for storing expensive oils, perfumes, and medicines because it was not porous. The small body and mouth allowed the user carefully to pour and control the amount of liquid dispensed. These small glass bottles are found frequently at Hellenistic and Roman sites, especially in cemeteries, and the liquids which filled them would have been gathered from all corners of the expansive Roman Empire. The iridescence on ancient Roman glass was unintentional, and was caused by weathering on its surface. The extent to which a glass object weathers depends mainly on the burial conditions; however, the humidity, heat, and type of soil in which the glass was buried also all affect its preservation.

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

Weight 6.8 g
Dimensions W 2.7 x H 2.8 cm



Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, item number 81.10.122

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