The Romans were some of the earliest manipulators of glass, developing glass blowing techniques and using these pieces for cosmetics, dining and ceremonies. From around 70AD it was this clear glass that was used for the finest pieces and seen as the most exclusive and expensive.

A flask like this was likely used for holding a wealthy Roman’s cosmetics – most probably those for the eye.

In stock


C. 300-500 AD. Late Roman. A pale blue-green double balsamarium comprised of two parallel conjoined tubes with an attached ‘bucket’ handle formed from a thick trail joined to the tubes below the rim. Glass was a major manufacturing industry in the Roman Empire, especially after the invention of glassblowing in the middle of the first century BC, when glass became used for a variety of purposes including vessels, jewellery and construction materials such as glass or tiles. Roman glassmaking reached the farthest corners of the Empire and flourished until about 400 AD, when the Roman Empire started to disintegrate, finally falling in the late 5th century AD. Balsamaria are small bottles intended for toiletries, especially perfumes, ointments, powders, balms, and oils. Double balsamaria like this example are traditionally associated with kohl, an ancient eye cosmetic, made by grinding stibnite for similar purposes to the charcoal used in mascara. Excellent condition; beautiful patina.

Size: L:170mm / W:60mm ; 30g

Provenance: From a private London collection; previously acquired on the European art Market before 2000.

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