Romano-Egyptian Mosaic Glass Bead


A Romano-Egyptian mosaic glass spherical bead with hues of vivid colours including yellow, red, white and black. The bead presents millefiori patterns, featuring alternating yellow and red stripes radiating from a centre comprised of a red frame around three pairs of concentric circles in black and white. Multiple sections of such pattern were fused together to form the spherical shape of the bead, with the seams visible to the surface. The piece is perforated through the centre for suspension.

Date: Circa 1st century BC - 1st century AD
Provenance: Ex S.M. London collection, 1970-2000s by descent
Condition: Fine condition. Seams from fusing visible to the surface.

In stock

Jewellery was highly important throughout all of Ancient Egyptian history, worn across social classes, and by both women and men. Bright colours and patterns were exceedingly popular, as were bold, large pieces. Beaded necklaces were especially common. These necklaces were often made from beads of all different colours, sizes, and materials, arranged artfully to create an eye-catching piece. The annexation of Egypt into the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity in no way dampened the Egyptians enthusiasm for self-adornment. The Romano-Egyptian period saw great changes in Egyptian art and culture, with more and more Egyptians taking inspiration from the empire’s capital. Glass beads were incredibly popular in Rome, made with a variety of coloured glasses, and even using different styles to trick the eye into mistaking the glass for gemstones. Glassmakers in Rome were said to be absolute masters of their craft, and their work and styles spread throughout the Empire. Egyptians took inspiration from Rome, and infused the capital’s styles with their bold colours and bright patterns, creating mesmerising pieces.

Millefiori, meaning ‘a thousand flowers’, involved bundles of thin glass rods, of various colours, fused together and then drawn out. They were then cut into slices and fused onto a base of coloured enamel. Most likely this technique derived from glass-making practices seen across the Roman Empire.

Weight 0.58 g
Dimensions L 0.7 x W 0.7 cm





Reference: For a similar item,The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession number 10.130.3287

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