Fragments of a glass bowl with biblical scenes

Early Christian, late 4th century AD
Found in Cologne, Germany

These fragments formed part of a bowl blown from colourless glass. They were found in a grave at St Severin in Cologne, Germany. The bowl was originally a presentation or festival day gift which was later re-used as a grave offering.

Three concentric circles of figural medallions in gold-leaf decorate the bowl, with smaller rosette medallions placed between them. The medallions have been covered with blobs of bluish-green and blue glass.

The subject matter derives primarily from the Old Testament. The medallion figures on the smaller fragment may be identified as Susannah and two of the children of Babylon in the fiery furnace. On the larger fragment Adam and Eve and either Moses with the rod or Christ as a miracle worker appear on the two medallions in the outer circle. Around the middle circle are the prophet Daniel between bushes; the prophet Jonah lying beneath a gourd tree; a rowing boat below a dolphin; and Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. The inner circle medallions portray a seated lion, Jonah and the whale, depicted as a sea monster; and the sea monster swallowing Jonah (only his legs are visible).

Find in the collection online

More information


O.M. Dalton, Catalogue of Early Christian a (London, British Museum, 1901)

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


Length: 10.000 cm (smaller fragment max.)
Length: 10.000 cm (smaller fragment max.)

Museum number

M&ME 1881,6-24,1



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore