Height: 11.000 cm
Diameter: 11.000 cm (rim)
Bequeathed by Felix Slade
Room 22: Alexander the Great
Glass footed cup (skyphos)
Found in a tomb at Canosa, Italy
About 225-200 BC
Originally part of a dinner service
This glass skyphos (winged-handled cup) belongs to a series that includes vessels for both serving and drinking. A number of these are decorated with fine linear cutting and some are of deliberately coloured glass: deep blue, purple or aquamarine.
The cup is ovoid (egg-shaped) with a thick, hollow stem. The mouth of the cup is narrow and while the stem could have been hollowed out after the glass vessel had been formed (cold-working) it is more likely that the cavity was created while the glass was soft (a hot process). This would have been both quicker and easier. The vessel body was probably formed around a crushable and removable core, which would also allow the handles and foot to be added more easily. The rim of the cup was ground, the handles cut into shape, and the finished vessel polished all over.
The glass of this vessel is intentionally decolourized so that it has a pale greenish tinge. Besides skyphoi, fairly large plates, dishes, and hemispherical bowls with projecting bosses on the outside and linear-cut decoration on the bottom were produced. These were luxury items, imitating vessels of other materials such as silver and bronze. Most examples have been found in Greek settlements in southern Italy and Sicily, or on sites in Greece, Asia Minor, around the Black Sea and possibly in Cyrenaica in North Africa. Their production centre, however, remains unknown.
H. Tait (ed.), Five thousand years of glass-1, 2nd paperback edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
V. Tatton-Brown and W. Gudenrath, Catalogue of Greek and Roman g (London, The British Museum Press, forthcoming)
D.B. Harden and others, The British Museum: masterpiec (London, 1968)