This transparent blue-green bowl is hemispherical in shape and sits on a tubular foot ring. It has a wide corrugated rim that is both decorative and functional. Bowls of this type are found throughout the Mediterranean Roman provinces, from Knossos (Crete) to Israel and even Algeria.
Reference: John W. Hayes, Roman and Pre-Roman Glass in the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, ROM 1975), cat. # 57. Susan H. Auth "Ancient Glass at the Newark Museum from the Eugene Schaefer collection" (1976), McGovern-Huffman, S. "Magical, Mystical Roman Glass, the Lenman/Stohlman Collection of Ancient Roman Glass" (2012).
The first evidences of glass manufacture is found around the mid-third millennium B.C. in the Near East and in Egypt, when this new material was used to make small filled objects imitating mostly stone (necklace beads); in the following millennium, Egyptian craftsmen perfected the technique and invented the process known as the "core-forming", that allowed the shaping of small containers especially suited for storing and transporting small quantities of liquids or unguents (cosmetics).
Glass definitely replaced clay as the raw material of choice for the manufacture of containers in all areas of daily life towards the end of the Hellenistic period: this event, which occurred gradually, is to be considered a major technological revolution of antiquity. In early Roman times, the invention and widespread use of the blowpipe and the invention of furnaces able to resist the temperatures needed for the melting of sands (transparent glass) gave the final impetus to the success of glass.
With a versatility like no other known material in Roman times, abundant availability, lightness and ease of use, glass enabled the imitation of a wide range of other materials (especially precious metals), whether in the form, the design or the color. Furthermore, glass is a chemically neutral substance, which makes it particularly suitable for the storage of food, but also of cosmetics or pharmaceutical products.
Dimensions: Diameter: 4 inches (10 cm)
Condition: Some mineral accumulation and pale iridescence, there is minor weathering and a hairline crack to the body otherwise, the bowl is intact and in very good condition overall.
Provenance: The William R. Crawford collection of Ancient Glass and Antiquities, acquired from the European trade in the 1950's and then by descent. William R. Crawford, a retired American career diplomat and expert on the Middle East and Cyprus, was Director of Arab-Israeli Affairs at the State Department between 1959-1964, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Cyprus thereafter. In the 1970's, he was ambassador to Yemen and then to Cyprus and later became Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian affairs. He donated part of his collection to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts prior to his death in 2002.