Unguentarium

From archaeologist Dr. Nina Willburger on Twitter about this two thousand year old unguentarium and also a great excuse to write unguentarium three times, and I’d never even heard of an unguentarium before. “This delicate Roman blue and white marbled glass unguentarium,” the good doctor begins, “a vessel to hold oil/perfume, was made from translucent dark blue glass with trails in opaque white, dating 1st century AD.” Almost telegraphically terse, but she nails it. Let your eyes loll over the picture, it’s such a beautiful thing. Romans were absolutely masters of glassware, and they mass produced the stuff, glass blowers huffing and puffing all day long creating things like this. Theirs was was the world created by Caesar Augustus and his Antonine Dynasty, the very apogee of Rome, the world of I Claudius, the Antonines and the three emperors of the Flavian Dynasty who filled out the rest of that glorious century. Those were the years you probably visualize when you think of the Roman Empire, when delicate things like this could be found from Scotland to Mesopotamia and traded far beyond, and sometimes, somehow, they survived the two thousand years since, and we can gaze upon them, looking as if they were blown from molten glass only yesterday.

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