Glass perfume jar (alabastron)

Probably Phoenician, about 650-550 BC
Made in western Asia; said to be from Pozzuoli, Campania, Italy

The body of this glass alabastron was formed on a core. The lugs, in the shape of duck's heads, were then added and manipulated. The inside of the neck, however, was worked into its present shape when the glass was cold. 

The alabastron is similar to others that were also found in Italy. They are not all identical, but most seem to have been core-formed or made by a related technique. It is generally agreed that they were made in Assyria or Syria, probably by Phoenician glass-workers. Those with a recorded provenance (location of discovery) have been found in, among other places, Cyprus, Palestine and Carthage as well as Italy. These were all within the reach of Phoenician traders, who were themselves probably responsible for making glass inlays for ivory work and a series of luxurious monochrome vessels. Since they were above all copyists and adaptors it seems likely that they took up and practised core-forming and related techniques from their neighbours in Mesopotamia and Iran.

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More information


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)


Length: 8.500 inches

Museum number

GR 1869.6-24.16


Bequeathed by Felix Slade


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