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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Classical Masterpieces : Sand-Core Blue Glass Amphoriskos
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Sand-Core Blue Glass Amphoriskos - X.0185
Origin: Lebanon
Circa: 300 BC to 200 BC
Dimensions: 6" (15.2cm) high
Collection: Classical
Medium: Glass

Location: UAE
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Core-formed glass vessels such as this one were produced primarily in the Eastern Mediterranean beginning in the 6th Century B.C., centuries before the invention of glass blowing. However, the discovery of the core-formed technique dates back to Ancient Egypt, over a thousand years prior to the creation of this piece. The vessels were formed around a disposable core made of clay or sand mixed together with an organic binder which was then covered with molten glass. Colored threads of soft glass were wound around the vessels, and a pointed instrument was dragged across the threads to create the charming zig-zag and stripe patterns that characterize such works. The shapes of the vessels generally imitated the forms of bronze and terracotta works from the same period. Core-formed vessels were exported widely across the Mediterranean world and today constitute some of the most impressive examples of ancient glass.

This gorgeous blue core-formed glass amphoriskos is a masterpiece of ancient glass. Thin white threads have been wound across the body and the neck of the work, creating a charming decorative effect. Two handles along the neck and shoulders of the vessel would have allowed the piece to have been hung and would have aided in the handling of the piece. Vessels such as this were considered precious objects, not only because the high cost of the manufacturing process and their delicate nature; but also because they were used as containers for expensive perfumed oils and cosmetic powders. Glass containers had a natural advantage over their metal and terracotta counterparts: that the contents could be viewed from the outside. Over two millennia ago, this glass amphoriskos would have held fragrant unguents inside. Today, its precious contents have long since disappeared, leaving behind a vessel that is prized for its beauty, not for what was held inside.
- (X.0185)


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