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Superb Intact XL Genuine Ancient Roman Glass Vial 99AD $399.99

For Customers outside of USA

Genuine Ancient Roman Iridescent Blown Glass Vial Intact and Unrepaired.

CLASSIFICATION: Ancient Roman Blown Glass Vial.

ATTRIBUTION: Eastern Roman Empire (Syria), 1st Century A.D.


Height: 80 millimeters (3 1/4 inches).

Bowl Diameter: 11 millimeters (1/2 inch).

Neck Diameter: 8 millimeters (1/3 inch).

Top Lip Diameter: 16 millimeters (2/3 inch).

Weight: 5.99 grams.

CONDITION: Excellent, no cracks, chips, breakage, or repairs. Fairly uncommon style. Minor scratches and scuffs consistent with use and then burial in soil. Heavy layer of iridescence and soil deposits caused by prolonged burial in soil).

DETAIL: This is a very handsome, complete and unrepaired first century A.D. Roman blown glass vial of reasonably nice dimensions. Most Roman glass vessels recovered complete (intact or repairable) are between 1 and 3 inches in size. This specimen is over 3 inches tall, and is entirely intact and unrepaired. This specimen possesses a heavy (albeit patchy) iridescent burial patina which is silver in color with plays of green, blue, pink and purple. Though you can see some of the original green-colored glass peeking out, the silver iridescent covering is quite striking, very beautiful, and relatively uncommon. These small jars, pitchers, unguentariums, jugs, bottles, jars and flasks were used to contain aromatic oils, perfumes, medicinal ointments, and cosmetics.

It is not to say that the Romans did not use larger pieces of glass on their tables such as bowls and cups; and even larger containers for transporting foodstuffs; because they did. In fact whatever the Romans had produced in clay in the first and second centuries B.C. was by the first and second centuries A.D. more commonly produced in glass. However the larger pieces of glass are rarely found intact. The Romans for instance produced fluted, engraved, multi-tiered, and cut glass bowls of fantastic quality and design - and only a few intact specimens have ever been recovered intact. In fact even the medium-sized pieces such as this, and even smaller sized pieces are rarely recovered intact except as grave goods.

This piece as you can see has almost resembles a modern test tube one would expect to see sitting in a chemical laboratory. Normally this would have been used to dispense medicinal potions or aromatic unguents. While the style is not rare, it is certainly less common than the more often found, plain and undecorated jars and pots. The vial possesses some soil deposits both inside and outside the bottle. Possessing a very pleasing green color beneath a stunning silver layer of iridescence, this bottle is probably amongst the earlier Roman specimens, as in later years colorless glass was to prove most popular with the Romans. It was of course carefully cleaned, but some of the soil adhesions are pretty stubborn. They could be cleaned off by someone very patient and persistent, but as it is, the vial is very beautiful. It is unrepaired, with no cracks, chips, or breakage. It's a truly remarkable and authentic ancient glass vessel from the Roman Province of Syria.

If you wish to display it, it would look very nice in a shadow box or plaque. If you so desire we can provide a framed plaque and mount the artifact for you (so that it could be removed without damage at a later date) - or we could also mount it into a glass-fronted shadow box. If you did choose to have the vial mounted onto a plaque or shadow box, you would be quite pleased by the outcome. You can see a small version of such a framed display plaque (see it here). It would make a wonderfully handsome and historically significant gift. The plaque narrates a brief outline of the history of the Roman Empire, along with a very nice image of ruins dating from the Roman Empire, and a map of the Roman Empire at its apex. It would make a great gift, for yourself or a friend, and would surely delight a son or daughter. It would not only make a very handsome display, but would be very educational as well. Whether simply displayed as it is, or mounted into a shadow box or plaque, this is a wonderfully significant artifact of that magnificent empire which spanned Europe from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. It is sure to make someone very pleased.

HISTORY: Glass was an enormously costly luxury, not only for the early Romans prior to the first century (A.D.), but going back 3,000 years old to ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Sumeria. Though glass jewelry, especially gemstones, have been fashioned for over 3,000 years, very little is known about the production of glass in the ancient world. The ancient Egyptians fashioned amulets, beads, and small vessels out of a material known as faience, an ancient precursor of glass created by crushing quartz sand and mixing it with an alkali binder and mineral oxides to provide color. Written records from ancient Mesopotamia refer to the manufacture of glass, describing the manufacturing process as difficult and secret. Ancient lumps of glass have been discovered in the area and dated as far back as 4,000 B.C.

Around 1,500 B.C. two new production techniques gave rise to more frequent manufacture of glass in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Both techniques involved the use of molten glass rods, either wrapped around a mud core, or placed within a mold. However the end product was nonetheless frightfully expensive and the process lengthy. Finally around the 1st century B.C. glass blowing techniques were developed, wherein a blob of molten glass was inflated either free form or into a mold by blowing through a hollow metal blowpipe. Glass blowing became widespread during the later Roman Empire, and the inexpensive process created huge demand for glass products, including jewelry. Syria became the "glass factory" of the Roman Empire and glassware came to be widely disseminated throughout the Roman Empire. If you would like to learn more about ancient Roman/Syrian glass, there are two wonderful websites to start you on your voyage here and here

One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old piece of jewelry. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).

The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of "Pax Romana", a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.

At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Roman Soldiers oftentimes came to possess large quantities of "booty" from their plunderous conquests, and routinely buried their treasure for safekeeping before they went into battle. If they met their end in battle, most often the whereabouts of their treasure was likewise, unknown. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day 2,000 years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these treasures of the Roman Empire.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. Artifacts are mailed from the USA. Due to the fact this item is rather heavy and/or fragile, it costs a bit more to ship than is ordinarily the case. The cost for shipping this item within the USA is $9.99 for first class mail with delivery confirmation. All other international shipments $17.99 (airmail) - but do not include delivery confirmation. Insurance is available upon request. COA's are at additional $2.00.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."