Exceptional Ancient Roman Janus Glass Bottle

£ 2,500.00

An extremely fine example of Ancient Roman glass, mould-blown in a green colour, which was achieved by adding copper and lead to the molten glass. The passing of time has left some delicate iridescence to the glass’ surface. The glass features a round body resembling two identical plump-faced heads with dimpled chins and curly hair, represented by raised blobs, a short cylindrical neck and a flaring, folded rim. The flask has been blown in a two-part mould: traces of the joining can be seen at the mid-way point, vertically, between the two faces. The double-faced figure can be identified with Roman god Janus. According to Graeco-Roman mythology and culture, Janus was one of the oldest and most important divinities. He was the god of beginnings, and usually depicted with two faces, in order to look towards both the future and the past.

Date: Circa 3rd Century AD
Provenance: Ex private collection, SM, London, 1970-1999; a single named sale of the collection was held at Christies New York.
Condition: Extremely fine, complete and intact.
Product Code: RGS-46
Category: Tags: ,

The Romans loved glass for its practical as well as decorative uses. Glass bottles, such as this beautiful example, were used as containers for ointments, powders, balms, and other expensive liquids associated with the toilet, especially perfumes: the small mouth of the bottle is ideal for slow, careful pouring, while glass was preferred for holding liquids, due to its non-porous, non-absorbent nature. 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 H 7.4 cm

Moulded Glass


Southern Europe

Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, item 21.72 .

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