Roman Iridescent Glass Flask


A stunning Roman globular flask blown from deep blue glass. The vessel features a flat base, bulbous body and a narrow, cylindrical neck displaying a constricted opening with a slightly everted thick rim. A beautiful spectrum of blue and mother of pearl iridescence is visible to the flask’s surface along with earthly encrustation.

Date: Circa 1st Century AD
Provenance: Fine condition. Earthly encrustations to the exterior of the item.


SKU: AF-46 Category: Tags: ,

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. 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. 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. Along with the unique shapes, different components were added to the hot glass to create a variety of colours. For this particular piece, cobalt has been added to produce the beautiful, intense deep blue colour. 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: Ancient Glass and Collecting Roman Glass.

Weight 172 g
Dimensions W 7.1 x H 8.1 cm



Reference: For similar item see The Metropolitan Museum, accession number 244581

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