Roman Large Glass Unguentarium


A fine large Roman unguentarium blown from pale blue glass featuring a piriform body with a flat base. The shoulders taper on to a cylindrical neck leading to an out splayed, folded rim. Beautiful blue iridescence can be seen across the surface.

Period: Circa 2nd-3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex Abelita family collection, acquired 1980-2015.
Condition: Excellent condition, some encrustation is visible.


SKU: LD-544 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, allowing for the production of small medicine, incense, and perfume containers in new forms. The small neck 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: Ancient Glass and Collecting Roman Glass.

Weight 64.2 g
Dimensions H 15.4 cm



Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, item 1842,0728.603

You may also like…