Height: 6.500 cm
Diameter: 11.400 cm
Room 22: Alexander the Great
Mosaic glass bowl
Said to be from
Probably made in the eastern Mediterranean, about 200-100 BC
A pleasing pattern of blue and yellow
About 80 BC, a small craft sank off the south-west coast of Greece near Antikythera. It was probably on its way from the eastern Mediterranean to Italy. Alongside a cargo of marble and bronze statues, amphorae and other items, a group of glass vessels was found. Included were footed bowls of the same network mosaic glass as this vessel, with the network canes arranged in parallel rows spiralling up from the bottom.
The technique for producing this bowl was quite complicated. Canes of blue and yellow threads, each spirally twisted with colourless (clear) thread, were laid on a refractory surface, ends together, and spirally twisted round together to form a disc. This disc was surrounded by a single 'network' cane, before being slumped over a ceramic form (mould) to make the bowl.
The first vessels of network mosaic glass were made towards the end of the third century BC. The canes were twisted in opposite directions so that the finished bowl showed a 'herringbone pattern' - not as pleasing as the parallel rows of this piece.
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)