Ancient Roman Yellow Glass Jug with Trefoil Rim


A very fine Ancient Roman jug blown from translucent yellow glass. The vessel features a tubular rim, which is folded over and tooled into a trefoil shape. The short, narrow neck flows elegantly into a bulbous body with a slightly concave base. A trailing decoration in the same hue of yellow is applied to the neck, further enriching the piece. A brown ribbon handle is drawn up and outwards from the shoulder, then folded onto the rim to connect the body and mouth for ease of use.

Date: Circa early 3rd Century AD.
Condition: Very fine condition. Some weathering and iridescence to the surface.


Many items of ancient glassware were designed for tableware use, in particular for carrying and serving water and wine at banquets. Jugs, like this example, were one of the most frequently used containers, and existed in different dimensions and shapes.

The variety of shapes and sizes seen in ancient glassware was achieved through the technique of glassblowing, which by the 1st century AD had revolutionised the art of glassmaking. It allowed for easier manipulation of the glass, but also for a quicker paced production, as the hot glass would be blown into a mould and then removed whilst still hot so that the glass maker could still work on it. Different minerals were added to create a variety of colours; the yellow tint seen in this piece would have been created by adding lead and changing the oxygen levels. 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 Roman Glass and Collecting Roman Glass.

Weight 76.3 g
Dimensions W 7.9 x H 11.5 cm




Reference: For a similar item, please see The Royal Ontario Museum, item 952.10.15

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