Glass dropper-flask in the form of a gladiator's helmet

Roman, about AD 200-300
Made in Cologne; perhaps found in Cologne, (modern Germany)

This flask, in the form of a gladiator's helmet, is a product of the Rhineland glass industry. It has a narrow hole in the neck that would allow only drops of unguent or perfume to pass.

When the flask is inverted (and the helmet is the right way up) a blue trail, tooled flat and milled across the forehead, provides a nose and side whiskers. Birds on either side of the face are formed by unmilled thin trails of the same colourless (clear) glass as the vessel. The birds are particularly attractive and stand on a berried twig of opaque white with red berries, and a green twig and petals. The birds' eyes are colourless coils with opaque white and blue pupils. Generally, flattened and milled snake-thread trails are found on larger glasses, like this flask, while finer trails forming patterns such as floral elements, spirals, swastikas and volutes, appear on smaller vessels.

Another helmet similar to this one was found at Cologne. Dropper flasks in the form of helmets, but of green glass with green trails, were also known in the eastern Roman empire.

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More information


H. Tait (ed.), Five thousand years of glass-1, 2nd paperback edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

D.B. Harden and others, The British Museum: masterpiec (London, 1968)

E. Köhne and C. Ewigleben (eds.), Gladiators and Caesars: the po (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

D. Harden (ed.), Glass of the Caesars, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)


Height: 10.200 cm
Diameter: 5.000 cm (rim)

Museum number

GR 1881.6-24.1


Disch Collection


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