Height: 5.200 cm
Bequeathed by Felix Slade
Room 22: Alexander the Great
Mosaic glass plate
Found in a chamber tomb at Canosa, Puglia, southern Italy; Made in the eastern Mediterranean, about 225-200 BC
This large polychrome plate of mosaic glass heralds the start of a tradition that was to become one of the hallmarks of Hellenistic and early Roman production. Up until now mosaic glass plates and dishes have been found exclusively in Italy, though mosaic glass bowls have been discovered over a wider area, including sites in Greece, the Aegean islands, Anatolia, Syria and Mesopotamia. All these regions, however, were ready markets for the luxury goods of the time and so do not shed any light on the origin of the glass ware.
This plate is made of sections of cane of clear deep blue with opaque white spirals, together with scattered segments (tesserae). Some of these are of gold leaf sandwiched between colourless (clear) glass; some are of opaque white and opaque yellow cased on one or two sides with colourless (clear) glass, and a few are of clear deep blue. Slices of cane and the tesserae were fused together to form a disc that was then slumped into a negative form (mould). When cooled, the plate was ground and polished, and deep concentric grooves were cut around the inside of the rim.
The plate was found in a chamber tomb with other objects, including a bowl of sandwich gold-glass, also in The British Museum.
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)