Sidonian Opaque White Glass Bottle

£ 4,000.00

An exceptionally fine and rare Sidonian glass flask, mould-blown in opaque white colour. The vessel sits on a flat foot and is made in a tripartite mould, with a free blown cylindrical neck featuring an outward folded rim. Its hexagonal body features six rectangular columnar niches, surmounted with triangular pediments and each centred by a depiction of a bird or a butterfly. A raised egg-and-dart border below and an additional band decorated with raised grooves over the short foot. Bottles of this type, known as the Bird Series, might have been made as souvenirs or evocations of the Phoenician city of Ornithopolis, which translates to “City of Birds” and that was located between Sidon and Tyre on the Eastern Mediterranean coast, modern-day Lebanon.

Date: Circa 1st Century AD
Provenance: Ex private collection, SM, London, the largest collection of Sidonian glass in the world, acquired 1970s-1999.
Condition: Very fine, a few hairline stable cracks, some earthly encrustations on the surface.
Product Code: RGS-55
Category: Tags: ,

In ancient times, Sidon was one of the oldest and richest Phoenician cities and was renewed for its metal and glass working techniques, even before the Roman conquest in 64 BC. The invention of glassblowing, which revolutionised completely the production of glass in the ancient world, finds its birthplace in the eastern borders of the Roman Empire, modern day Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. Many ancient historians believed Sidon to be the birthplace of glassblowing technique. The glass vessels produced in the region display high refinement and were extremely valued by the contemporaries.  Glass was often the preferred material for storing expensive oils, perfumes and medicines in antiquity because it was not porous. Glass vessels are found frequently at Hellenistic and Roman sites, especially in cemeteries, and the liquids that filled them would have been gathered from all corners of the expansive Roman Empire.

To learn more about Roman glass, visit our relevant post: How It Was Made: Roman Glass.

Dimensions W 4.5 x H 8.4 cm

Blown Glass, Moulded Glass


Southern Europe

Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, item 06.1035.1.

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