Object: Glass bottle

C/1946/5/1
Glass bottle
Roman Syrio-Palestinian (?)
Workshop of Ennion, Sidon, (modern day) Lebanon
1st century CE
Materials: Glass

Glass was invented in Mesopotamia around 2500 BCE. The first glass containers were produced approximately one thousand years later. It is thought that glass was used as a substitute for semiprecious stones, and it remained a luxury item until the modern era. Most glass vessels in the ancient Mediterranean were used as perfume bottles and resembled shapes of Greek pottery.

The first glass vessels were formed using a core technique. This technique used a clay core attached to the end of a metal rod. The core was dipped into molten glass which was then marvered, or rolled, on a stone to smooth the surface. Glass blowing was not invented until the first century BCE. Shortly after the invention of glass blowing, the technique of mold blown glass emerged. Mold blown glass vessels, like this one, are formed by blowing a bubble of glass inside a form, or mold. The force of the air pushes the glass into the shape of the mold and allows the artist to create glass vessels in a wide variety of shapes.  A video showing how mold blown glass is made can be seen here.

It has been suggested that this vessel may have been made in the workshop of Ennion, one of the earliest known and most famous glass blowers. While this bottle is not signed by Ennion it is similar in shape, decoration, and dimensions to other bottles that have been connected to Ennion’s workshop. Ennion is believed to have worked in or near the city of Sidon, located in what is now Lebanon, and may have moved to Italy later in his career.

Similar glass vessels can be found in the Miho Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, and more. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

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