Roman Square Glass Bottle


A fine Roman bottle blown from pale yellow glass, now with the majority covered by iridescence and encrustation. The vessel features a cuboid body with each side slightly concave. The shoulders taper in to a thin cylindrical neck leading to a folded, flat rim. The base displays four dome-like ridges to help with balance and a pontil mark.

Date: Circa 2nd-3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex Abelita family collection, acquired 1980-2015.
Condition: Excellent condition


SKU: LD-560 Category: Tag:

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 to carefully 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. Most likely they were used as personal scent bottles, carrying expensive perfumes. Different minerals were added to create a variety of colours; the pale green tint seen in this piece would have been created by adding copper.

Iridescence is often used to date the glass, as it is a consequence of the natural ageing process. 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 50 g
Dimensions W 2.7 x H 11.1 cm



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