Country/Culture: Eastern Mediterranean
Dimensions: 3 1/4 × 1 3/4 × 13/16 in. diameter (8.3 × 4.4 × 2.1 cm)
Classification: Decorative Arts, Glass
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Glass first appeared as a manufactured material at about the same time and place that iron smelting developed in Anatolia and Mesopotamia in the third millennium B.C. Glass manufacture was restricted to very small objects for a few hundred years due to the rarity of materials and time-consuming production. As a result, glass items were highly desirable and primarily owned by members of the upper class.
The core-forming technique was a time-consuming one. A ceramic and dung core, similar to the vessel shape, was molded on a rod. Once heated, taffy-like glass was wrapped on the core to form an object. The craftsman then reheated the outer layer and rolled it on a hard surface to move the glass around and even out the vessel wall. Contrasting trails of glass were then applied to the vessel and dragged into designs with a comb-like or pointed tool. Handles and feet were added to the form, and it was cooled slowly to strengthen the vessel wall. Once cooled, the core was removed; the vessel was filled with contents and shipped around the Mediterranean region.
A small bottle such as this one would have been used as an oil or perfume container and is a miniature version of a common Greek pottery shaped popular during the same time. An early awareness of and interest in other regions and cultures indicated the breadth of the Mediterranean Sea trade.