Bowl

A Roman glass bowl found perfectly preserved in Nijmegen, Netherlands. I doubt it was produced locally, though who knows. There might well have been Roman glass workers there. Batavia (as they called the Netherlands then) was on the northern fringe of the Roman Empire when the empire was at its apogee, and was a trading center, and Roman items reached all the way there via trading vessels, that is aboard ships, which is difficult to imagine now, traveling from the Mediterranean to the North Sea in those ancient ships. Even getting to Holland from the Atlantic coast of France seems extraordinary. They’d trade Roman finery and jars of rancid fish sauce (the ancients loved their rancid fish sauce) for timber and furs and amber. (The exciting things you learn when you read too many big, dull books….) Unfortunately the source document is in Dutch so I’ve no idea of the details, and the Twitter thread quickly degenerated into a series of jokes about the box, and so I haven’t a clue how such a gorgeous thing was preserved in perfect condition since at the latest the 300s although if I had to guess I’d say it was found in a bog. Otherwise not much Roman glassware survived the inebriated depredations of hirsute barbarians who never bathed. Oddly enough, though, I’m looking at a bowl we received as a wedding present not quite in the 300s that bears a remarkable similarity to the design of this one. I‘d no idea it was based on a Roman design, I assume the pattern has survived into modernity via the Byzantines. Now it’s hidden under the coffee table full of assorted junk. How it’s survived all the decades of increasingly less hirsute inebriated depredations in our pad is almost as much of a mystery as the two thousand year old Roman bowl. Such is the fate of civilization.

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