Ancient Roman Glass Janus Head Flask


A fine example of an ancient Roman small mould-blown flask made from blue glass. It features a round body resembling two identical plump-faced heads with dimpled chins and curly hair, represented by raised blobs. One of the faces is modelled with a peaceful expression whist the other features a disgruntled one. Above the heads is a long cylindrical neck widening outwards and ending in a flaring, folded rim. The flask has been blown in a two-part mould: traces of the joining seem can be seen at the mid-way point, vertically, between the two faces. The double-faced figure can be identified with the Roman god Janus.

Date: Circa 1st - 3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex private collection, SM, London, 1970-1999.
Condition: Very fine, complete and intact. Earthly encrustations and some beautiful iridescence visible to the surface.

In stock

SKU: CY-63 Category: Tags: , ,

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 unintentional, and 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.

According to Graeco-Roman mythology and culture, Janus was one of the oldest and most important divinities. He was the god of beginnings, and usually depicted with two faces, in order to look towards both the future and the past. The month of January was named after the Roman god.

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

Weight 16.3 g
Dimensions L 6.5 x W 4 cm



Roman Mythology

Reference: For a similar item, The British Museum, item number 91528

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