Roman Iridescent Glass Unguentarium


A stunning Roman unguentarium in pale blue glass with beautiful iridescence. Featuring a piriform-shaped body, constriction at the base of the cylindrical neck and an everted folded rim. The base is slightly concave. Some earthly encrustation is visible.



Date: Circa 1st - 4th Century BC
Condition: Very Fine. Comes with a custom-made stand.


SKU: SA-59 Category: Tags: , ,

Unguentaria were amongst the most common objects of Roman blown glass: produced in large numbers, they were items of every day 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, allowing for the production of small medicine, incense, and perfume containers in new forms. The small body and mouth allowed the user carefully to pour and control the amount of liquid dispensed, and 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.

The iridescence on ancient Roman glass is 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 27.8 g
Dimensions W 2 x H 10.2 cm



Reference: For Similar: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 74.51.5805

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