“Millefiori” glass bowl - ROM2010_11646_1


“Millefiori” glass bowl

Medium:Moulded glass with millefiori pattern
Geography: Made in Syria
Date: about 1-50 AD
Period: Roman Imperial period
4.1 x 9.2 cm
Object number: 923.54.6
On view
Gallery Location:Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Rome and the Near East

Glassware was one of the primary industries in the Near East from about 200 BC onward. Thousands of specimens of Syro-Palestinian glass survive: it was a common grave-offering in the rock-cut tombs of the region - until the 5th century AD, when the advent of Christianity changed the local burial practices. Most Roman glass-making techniques likely originated in Syria or Palestine, being transmitted elsewhere by artisans from this region.

The iridescent surface of some ancient glass is the result of decay. Humidity fluctuations and acidic soil conditions cause a gradual eating-away of the surface as the glass breaks down into its natural components. A refractive film of decay builds up, producing the rainbow colours.

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