Lid of amber cylindrical pyxis - ROM2010_11496_86


Lid of amber cylindrical pyxis

Medium:Blown glass
Geography: Syria
Date: about 50-75 AD
Period: Roman Imperial period
4.4 x 3.5 cm
Object number: 950.157.77.B
Credit Line: Gift of Miss Helen Norton
On view
Gallery Location:Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Rome and the Near East
DescriptionGlassware 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 local burial habits. Most Roman glass-making techniques likely originated in Syria or Palestine, being transmitted elsewhere by artisans from this region.

Before 50 BC, glassware was scarce for Romans because production methods were time-consuming and expensive. One technique, called mould-cast glass, involved the laborious process of pouring molten glass into prepared moulds; the bowls shown here are most typical of this early Roman glass production. But around 50 BC, glass-blowing was invented in the Syria–Palestine region, revolutionizing the glass industry. Glass vessels could now be made cheaply and quickly, in vast quantities. Glassware for everyday use was soon mass-produced in factories throughout the Roman Empire.

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