When Glass Was Roman Gold

June 26, 2012 § Leave a comment


There was a tale about the emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus (42 BCE -37 CE).  A master of glass blowing had invented a method of blowing glass in a mold. In this way, uniform glass objects could be made with greater speed.  Tiberius got the man’s assurance that no one else knew of this method. Then had him beheaded. Tiberius thought that with the use of such a method, glass which was as valuable as gold would quickly become as cheap as dirt. (Did he anticipate the industrial revolution and our modern times?)

Along those lines I would like to present to you a marvelous glass object from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection. It is a heavy bit of glassware, almost as round as a globe.  It has wonderful wide handles of pulled glass.   The container is tinted green the natural color of glass and in the interior we have remains of a cremation. The object is an urn in fact. Regardless of it’s somewhat somber role, I think this is an great example of ancient glass blowing.

The second object with metal fittings that echos the leaf-like flaring of the pulled glass. The two materials, glass and bronze seem to compliment each other in form and color. Both objects have a form the reminds me of an Ancient Greek bottle for perfumed oils called  aryballos

This is but two items can be seen at the New York Metropolitan Museum. If you go there take spend some time in the Greek and  Roman exhibit.  It has been recently reinstalled and well worth your time.

 

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