Ancient Roman Blue Glass Spindle Whorl


A vivid blue glass Roman spindle whorl. The blue domed body of this whorl features a white spiral design running through both the front and back of the glass. The base of the whorl is flattened displaying a deeper blue and a tighter twirl design. A vertical hole is visible through the centre to be used on the spindle. This glass design was achieved through trailing.

Date: Circa 1st - 2nd century AD
Condition: Very fine condition. Slight graze to the side.


SKU: RH-16 Category: Tags: ,

Spindle whorls were useful accessory to the spindle; wool would have been twisted around the spindle then spun and left to drop pulling the fibres and creating yarn. The whorl would have been attached to the spindle helping to control the speed of the process. The weight of a whorl would determine the force applied while the diameter dictated the amount of twists performed during one spin. Roman glass spindle whorls were typically made from reused glass which meant that the spiral pattern came from the glass being remoulded into the smaller bead.  This technique for spinning dated from the Iron Age to the early post-medieval periods. In Roman society, women were tasked with clothing production; this has been testified by frescoes recovered from Pompeii, where women are shown hanging clothes to dry in a dye-shop.  In particular, an epigraphic inscription, dedicated to the Statlii family, mentions the quasillariae which was a group of all female spinners. The spindle and other textile work was something which was strongly associated with Roman women. The hobby of loom work was something which many high-born Roman ladies practiced, the spindle would have been involved in the feminine tradition of creating clothes or tapestries.

To find out more about Roman glass please see our relevant blog post: Ancient Glass and Collecting Roman Glass.

Weight 7.7 g
Dimensions W 2.5 cm



Reference: For a similar item,The Metropolitan Museum, item 74.51.336

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