ANCIENT ROMAN DOUBLE BALSAMARIUM
Measurements: 11.5 cm - height
Description: A magnificent Roman pale green glass double balsamarium with two co-joined tubular phials. The piece features two wavy ribbon handles applied to each side. Balsamaria usually came with glass or bronze applicators used to extract precious oils and creams from inside.
Balsamaria were small bottles, used as containers for ointments, powders, balms, and other liquids associated with the toilet, especially perfumes: the small mouth of the two flasks are ideal for slow, careful pouring while glass was preferred for holding liquids, due to its non-porous, non-absorbent nature. Balsamaria were made through the glass blowing process, which involved using a hollow clay or metal tube to gather molten glass into a sphere. By blowing air inside it, the glass worker created a hollow sphere, which he then stretched with the aid of gravity and metal tools into an elongated tube. Lines can be seen on the handles: those were created when the glass worker stretched the glass with tweezers.
References: RISD Museum
Period: 4th century AD
Condition: Very fine. Complete and intact with minor earthy encrustations and a stabilized stress crack on one of the phial's mouth – please see the photo above.