Height: 8.400 cm
Bequeathed by Felix Slade
P&EE 1870 2-24 3
Room 49: Roman Britain
Glass beaker with chariot-racing scene
Roman Britain, 1st century AD
From Colchester, Essex
A souvenir of the races
Glass vessels with scenes from the circus or the arena may have been intended as souvenirs, showing not only a picture of the sporting event but the names of the participants, who would have been well known to the fans of the games, just as sporting heroes are today.
On this beaker the two lower bands of decoration depict the four competing quadrigae (four-horse chariots). The typical architectural features of the race-track, such as the lap-markers, are also shown. The inscribed upper band records that the charioteer Cresces beat his opponents Hierax, Olympaeus and Antilochus.
The cup was made by blowing the glass into a mould. This method of manufacture requires careful preparation in making the mould itself, but the actual process of producing the finished vessels is far quicker than making free-blown glass. It is a form of mass-production comparable with the production of terracotta statuettes, lamps and other pottery utensils in moulds.
E. Köhne and C. Ewigleben (eds.), Gladiators and Caesars: the po (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)