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Roman Antiquities

Roman Republic, Lead Glandes Sling-Bullet, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

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According to the contemporary report of Vegatius, Republican slingers had an accurate range of up to six hundred feet. The best sling ammunition was cast from lead. For a given mass, lead, being very dense, offered the minimum size and therefore minimum air resistance. Also, lead sling-bullets were small and difficult to see in flight. In some cases, the lead would be cast in a simple open mold made by pushing a finger, thumb, or sharpened stick into sand and pouring molten metal into the hole. The flat top end was carved to a matching point after the lead cooled. More frequently, they were cast in two-part molds. Sling-bullets were made in a variety of shapes including an ellipsoidal form closely resembling an acorn; possibly the origin of the Latin word for lead sling-bullet: glandes plumbeae (literally leaden acorns) or simply glandes (meaning acorns, singular glans). The most common shape by far was biconical, resembling the shape of an almond or an American football. Why the almond shape was favored is unknown. Possibly there was some aerodynamic advantage, but it seems equally likely that there was a more prosaic reason, such as the shape being easy to extract from a mold, or that it will rest in a sling cradle with little danger of rolling out. Almond-shaped lead sling-bullets were typically about 35 millimeters (1.4 in) long and about 20 millimeters (0.8 in) wide. Sometimes symbols or writings were molded on the side. A thunderbolt, a snake, a scorpion, or others symbols indicating how it might strike without warning were popular. Writing might include the name of the military unit or commander, or was sometimes more imaginative, such as, "Take this," "Ouch," "Catch," or even "For Pompey's backside."
AW66458. Lead glandes sling-bullet; cf. Petrie XLIV 15-23; roughly biconical, without symbols or inscriptions, c. 40 - 90 grams, c. 3 - 5 cm long, one sling-bullet randomly selected from the same group as those in the photo, ONE BULLET, BARGAIN PRICED!; $20.00 (€17.60)
 


Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, Glass Double Balsamarium (Cosmetic Tube), 4th Century A.D.

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This type was used to store eye makeup. One tube would have held kohl, a black paste made with powdered galena. The other tube would have held another color, perhaps made with an ochre clay (for red or brown) or powdered malachite (for green or blue).
AG20799. cf. Yale Gallery 323, Oppenländer 680a, ROM Glass 458, Corning II 749, Choice, complete and intact, weathering and iridescence, double balsamarium, free-blown thick heavy pale translucent blue-green glass, 20.0 cm (8") tall, two tubes joined side-by-side and sharing a thick globular bottom, applied top "basket" handle attached to applied loop on each side; from the Robert H. Cornell collection, former dealer in Eastern antiquities for 40 years; $1250.00 (€1100.00)
 


Roman, Syro-Palestinian, Sprinkler Flask, 3rd - 4th Century A.D.

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Dropper bottles, such as this one, were filled with scented oil or perfume. The constriction in the neck made it easy to dispense the expensive contents one drop at a time. The swirled design was created by blowing the body into a ribbed mold, removing the glass from the mold, then blowing it again while twisting the bubble. The most unusual feature on this flask is the recessed neck, pushed into the body, a very rare feature.
AG20821. cf. Corning II 621, ROM Glass 282, Newark Museum 152, Wolf Collection 154, Carnegie Museum 213, Superb, complete and intact, attractive iridescence, globular body sprinkler flask, transparent blue glass, 11.3 cm (4 3/8") tall, 4.4 cm (1 3/4") widest diameter, beautifully made, mold-blown swirled ribs, recessed cylindrical neck, everted funnel mouth, rolled and folded in rim, kicked bottom, no pontil mark; from a Florida dealer; $1000.00 (€880.00)
 


Roman, Syro-Palestinian (Samaria?), Snake-Thread Flask, Late 2nd - Early 4th Century A.D.

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Snake-thread ornamentation originated in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire in the second half of the second century and its popularity peaked in the first half of the third century. Snake-thread decoration was revived in the second half of the fourth century in the east and in the west near Cologne in modern Germany. Serpentine form trails may vary in thickness, may be the same color as the vessel (usually colorless) or brightly colored (common in the West). Ontario Museum 309, with similar subtle snake-thread ornamentation, is attributed to Samaria, 3rd to early 4th century A.D.

A disadvantage of antiquity photographs is that they usually fail to adequately indicate size. This vessel, nearly 5" tall, is larger than most similar vessels of the period.
AG63814. cf. Ontario Museum 309 (for similar ornamentation), Superb, complete and intact, a well made beautiful flask, some weathering, some iridescence, snake thread flask, 12.4 mm (4 7/8") high, funnel mouth with rolled rim, cylindrical neck, bulbous body, snake-thread ornamentation on the body, flat bottom; from a Florida dealer; $900.00 (€792.00)
 


Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, Small Glass Bowl, c. Mid 1st - 3rd Century A.D.

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In his Satyricon, the satirist Petronius’ tells the story of a Roman glass-maker who invented flexible glass and was granted an audience with the Roman emperor Tiberius. After Tiberius examined a glass cup, he handed it back to the glass-maker, who threw it to the floor. The emperor was shocked, but the cup did not shatter and was only dented. The glass-maker beat the glass with a little hammer, and in no time, the cup regained its original shape. Tiberius asked if anybody else knew how to make this flexible glass, to which the glass-maker replied, no. The glass maker was expecting a reward for his invention, but instead, Tiberius had him executed, thus taking the secret of making flexible glass with him to his grave. Tiberius executed the glass-maker because he was afraid flexible glass would cause gold to be devalued. Believe it or not, Pliny tells this same story in his, Natural History!
AG20812. cf. Harter A17, Isings 18, Newark Museum 101, Bomford 98, Choice, intact, areas of weathering and iridescence, very tiny chips in the edge, small glass bowl, mold pressed thin pale green transparent glass; 13.8 cm (4 3/8") diameter, 3.9 cm (1 1/2") high; spherical shell, curving outward toward edge, rolled up and in lip with ground edge, bottom slightly concave, ornamented with light wheel-incised horizontal bands on exterior; from the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years; $900.00 (€792.00)
 


Roman, Syro-Palestinian, Glass Sprinkler Flask, c. Late 3rd - 4th Century A.D.

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Dropper bottles, such as this one, were filled with scented oil or perfume. The constriction in the neck made it easy to dispense the expensive contents one drop at a time. The swirled design was created by blowing the body into a ribbed mold, removing the glass from the mold, then blowing it again while twisting the bubble.
AG21021. cf. ROM Glass 282, Isings 104b, Newark Museum 80-82, Oppenländer 493, Superb, complete and intact, areas of light weathering, sprinkler flask, well made free-blown, pale blue-green transparent glass, 8.5 cm (3 3/8") high, 6.3 cm (2 1/2") diameter, globular body with mold blown ribbing twisted spirally, short tubular neck with tooled slight constriction at base, internal washer-like sprinkler diaphragm at base of neck, flaring funnel mouth, rolled tubular and folded in rim, kicked bottom with pontil mark; from the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years; $800.00 (€704.00)
 


Roman-Byzantine, Syro-Palestinian, Glass Dropper Flask, c. Late 1st - Early 5th Century A.D.

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Thick enamel-like weathering, as seen on this piece, is common on glass found in the Levant and this piece is certainly from the Levante. This flask is, however, a bit of a mystery. There is nothing very similar in the large library of ancient and medieval glass references held by Forum. It resembles an aryballos, but lacks the handles which define that type. It probably was used like an aryballos, to store and dispense scented oil which was rubbed on the skin and then scraped off to clean the body. The date is uncertain. Weathering obscures the original color, making another mystery, but the only other a similar flasks we know are described as opaque black glass.
AG20822. Isings -, et al. -; apparently unpublished but two similar pieces are known from the market (priced $2,500 - $3,000!), Choice, complete and intact, thick tan and brown enamel-like weathering, dropper flask, free-blown, amber(?) glass, 12.0 cm (4 3/4") tall, 8.5 cm maximum diameter, piriform body, very short narrow neck, broad flat folded in rim, round bottom with large pontil mark, not designed to stand on its own, attractive clear plexiglass three prong stand included; from the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years; very rare form; $700.00 (€616.00)
 


Roman, Syro-Palestinian, Glass Jar with a Flaring Mouth and Double Rim, Late 3rd - 5th Century A.D.

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This is a rather plain, but finely made jar - except for the unusual "double rim." The double rim was made by folding to create a flange immediately below the rim.
AG20811. cf. Corning I 284, Isings 133, Superb, complete and intact, attractive iridescence, spots of tan weathering, glass jar with flaring mouth and double rim, well made, thin transparent blue-green glass, 6.7 cm 2 (2 5/8") high, 7.2 mm (2 3/4') maximum diameter, short concave neck, flaring mouth, horizontal flange around the underside of the rim immediately below the rolled and folded in lip, kicked bottom with pontil mark; from the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years; $650.00 (€572.00)
 


Roman, Palestinian, Sprinkler Flask, c. 4th Century A.D.

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The Palestinian glass industry especially flourished from the early 4th to the early 5th century, when the region enjoyed a time of peace and prosperity. Conditions began to improve under Diocletian. The first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, designated Jerusalem and the Holy Land for reconstruction. Exempted from personal taxation by an Imperial edict in 337, a large number of skilled craftsmen profited greatly from an economic boom. Urbanization increased, large new areas were put under cultivation, monasteries proliferated and synagogues were restored. The cities of Palestine, Caesarea Maritima, Jerusalem, Scythopolis, Neapolis, and Gaza reached their peak population, and the population West of the Jordan may have reached as many as one million.
AG20852. cf. Isings 104b, ROM Glass 327, Corinth II 621, Superb, complete and intact, spots of weathering and iridescence, glass dropper bottle, medium thickness yellow-green semi-transparent glass, 8.4 cm (3 1/4") high, 6.6 cm (2 5/8") maximum diameter, globular body with mold blown ribs, tubular neck tapering to a tooled constriction at top of shoulder, internal sprinkler diaphragm at base of neck, flaring mouth, vertical rim with folded stepped flange, fire rounded rim, kicked bottom with pontil mark; from the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years; rare with this rim; $600.00 (€528.00)
 


Roman, Glass Sprinkler Flask, 3rd - 4th Century A.D.

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Dropper bottles, such as this one, were filled with scented oil or perfume. The constriction in the neck made it easy to dispense the expensive contents one drop at a time. The swirled design was created by blowing the body into a ribbed mold, removing the glass from the mold, then blowing it again while twisting the bubble.
AG21025. cf. ROM Glass 282, Isings 104b, Newark Museum 80-82, Oppenländer 493, Superb, complete and intact, spots of internal encrustation, mild weathering and some iridescence, dropper flask, 9.2 cm (3 5/8") high, 6.5 cm (2 1/2") maximum diameter, pale amber glass, slightly lopsided rolled and folded in rim, short funnel mouth, tubular neck with tooled constriction near the bottom, internal washer-like sprinkler diaphragm constriction at base of neck, globular body with spiral mold blown ribs (most visible on the shoulder), slightly convex bottom with pontil mark; from the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years; $600.00 (€528.00)
 




  



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Roman Antiquities