Small Roman Glass Candlestick Unguentarium

£ 225.00

A delicate Roman candlestick unguentarium blown from translucent glass. The vessel sits upon a flat base and features a squat domed body leading to a long cylindrical neck and out-splayed folded rim. The glass displays a beautiful silver-coloured iridescence to the neck and body.

Date: Circa 1st-2nd Century AD
Provenance: Ex SM collection, London 1970-2010.
Condition: Very fine condition. Some areas of the vessel are covered in earthly encrustations and iridescence. There is a hairline crack near the rim.
Product Code: RGS-75
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Unguentaria were amongst the most common objects of Roman blown glass: produced in large numbers, they were items of everyday use for keeping expensive unguents and cosmetic oils. Candlestick unguentaria are among the most popular glass shapes recovered across the Roman Empire, especially used in funerary and burial rituals, hence their frequent occurrence in archaeological excavations of ancient cemeteries.

By the 1st century AD, the technique of glass-blowing had revolutionised the art of glass-making. The new technique allowed craftsmen to use smaller amounts of glass for each vessel and obtain much thinner walls, so enabling the creation of small medicine, incense, and perfume containers in new forms. The small body and mouth allowed the user carefully to pour and control the amount of liquid dispensed, and glass was the material of choice for storing the oils because it was not porous. These small glass bottles are found frequently at Hellenistic and Roman sites, especially in cemeteries, and the perfumes which filled them would have been gathered from all corners of the expansive Roman Empire.

To discover more about the types and uses of unguentaria, please visit our relevant blog post: Roman Glass: Unguentaria and Cosmetics.

Weight 11.8 g
Dimensions W 3.4 x H 10.5 cm

Blown Glass


Southern Europe

Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, item 74.51.5747

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