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 Museum Explorer

Tools and technology
in Europe

The Lycurgus Cup

Height: 16.500 cm (with modern metal mounts)
Diameter: 13.200 cm

The Lycurgus Cup

Date: 4th century AD
From: probably made in Rome

This glass cup shows a scene from a Greek story. Lycurgus, a king with a fierce temper, is being trapped by vines as a punishment for his behaviour.

The cup is special for two reasons: firstly it is the only complete example of a kind of glass called dichroic glass. Dichroic glass changes colour from green to a glowing red when light is shone through it.

The cup is also the best example we have of a 'cage-cup'. It is made from a solid block of glass that has been carefully carved away until the cup and the figures standing out on it are left.