Roman Glass Pilgrim Flask

£ 350.00

A handsome, ancient Roman glass pilgrim flask, finely blown in yellow coloured glass. The vessel features a spherical body, flattened on either side, sloping shoulders, a cylindrical neck and a folded rim. The base is flattened and features a large central pontil mark.
Distinct and beautiful weathering patterns have developed throughout the piece. There is a residue contained within the vessel body and neck. Stunning patches of rainbow iridescence are located on the rim and exterior. There are some darker textured patches of deterioration, but the majority of the glass remains translucent. Its yellow hue is likely due to the addition of lead within the composition.

Date: Circa 2nd- 3rd century AD
Provenance: From the important collection of a professional by descent, bought London and Europe 1970-90's
Condition: Extremely fine with some earthly encrustations on the surface
Product Code: RGS-68
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The Romans frequently utilised the functional and decorative capabilities of glass to produce a wide array of objects. Glass flasks, such as this example, were used as containers for ointments, powders, balms, and other expensive liquids such as 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.
The nomenclature developed due to a similarity in form to the flattened spherical vessels utilised by pilgrims to carry water on their travels. The shape is also sometimes referred to as ‘lentoid’ meaning ‘lens-shaped’. This particular form appears to be a predecessor to twin-handled pilgrim flasks, which became commonplace later in the 3rd and 4th centuries. These later iterations also often feature additionally applied trailing.

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

Weight 25.9 g
Dimensions L 6.45 x W 3.10 x H 9.70 cm

Blown Glass


Southern Europe

Reference: For similar: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 74.51.67

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