Roman glass was a popular material within the empire, used extensively across all classes. The introduction of the glass-blowing technique revolutionised Roman glass technology from the 1st century AD. Glass items became so popular that certain clay cups had stopped being produced. Coloured glass was used in jewellery and mosaics, with the Romans using metal oxides to colour the glass. For example, iron would be used to create green glass and copper was used to enhance the natural aqua colour of Roman glass. Engravers also found ways to cut glass to replicate carved gems which were found on rings. These glass beads have also made a modern resurgence, with Roman glass becoming incorporated in modern jewellery.
To the ancient Romans, blue was a colour typically associated with the sea or barbarians. Blue or ‘indigo’ dye was one of the most costly colours to have when it came to Roman fashion and blue clothes were typically worn within mourning contexts. In art, blue was used as a background colour, representing the sky or water. In a political context, the colour blue was associated with barbarians. The enemies of Rome tended to paint their faces blue, wear blue clothes or dye their hair the colour.
For more information about Roman glass, please see our blog post: Ancient Glass