Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Glass ribbed bowl; marbled purple; slumped or sagged and the ribs hot-worked with tongs rather than being moulded (hence tell-tale indentations at the top of several of the ribs), then presumably ground and polished.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1stC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 4.5 centimetres
    • Diameter: 13 centimetres
    • Weight: 256 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    This class of bowls have hitherto been regarded as being dipped in a mould, hence are usually referred to in the literature as "moulded ribbed bowls" or "pillar moulded bowls". However, experiments and demonstrations by English glass-workers at the 2003 AIHV conference at Imperial College London suggests that they were entirely hand-made, the ribs being pulled and trimmed with pincers and blades while the glass was hot and slumped over a stone former. Tell-tale signs of this are the indentations at the tops of the ribs or occasionally a subtle rippling between the raised ribs, where the glass has been gathered to form the ribs.
    This is a Roman import which was excavated by Captain Higham in the 1960s, and exported by him from Bahrain in 1968 before the passing of antiquities legislation. A similar Roman ribbed marbled blue glass bowl was found at Radnage in Buckinghamshire (BM, P&EE 1923-6-5,1); plain coloured glass examples (either complete or fragmentary) have been found throughout the Roman Empire and at several other sites to the east, including Nineveh, Assur, ed-Dur, Begram and sites in Southern Arabia, suggesting that they were traded fairly widely for which their relative robusticity would have made them very suitable. Their function is uncertain although David Grose suggested at the 2003 AIHV conference that they were a symbol of Roman food production, provocatively associated with a Roman recipe for uncooked porridge (paper delivered 8 September 2003).Many similar known in Roman world; examples include Christie's (NY), Antiquities sale, 8 June 2005, lot 122 = ex-Winfield Smith collection.


  • Bibliography

    • During Caspers E C L 1980a p. 14, fig. 6a, pls XXV: 1-2, XXVI: 1-2 bibliographic details
    • Simpson 2000a p. 34 bibliographic details
    • During Caspers E C L 1974a p.148, fig. 5a bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    2015 30 May - 13 Sep, Segedunum, Tyne & Wear 'Roman Empire: Power + People' 2015 24 Jan - 10 May, McManus Galleries, Dundee 'Roman Empire: Power + People' 2014 -2015, 20 Sep - 4 Jan, Leeds City Museum, Leeds 'Roman Empire: Power + People' 2014, 15 May - 31 Aug, Herbert Museum, Coventry 'Roman Empire: Power + People' 2014, 25 Jan - 27 Apr, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Norwich 'Roman Empire: Power + People' 2013 - 2014, 21 Sep - 05 Jan, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol 'Roman Empire: Power + People' 2006 13 Apr-23 Dec, BM, G2/168. 2001, BM, G52/IRAN/13/3 2000, London, Brunei Gallery SOAS, 'Traces of Paradise: Archaeology of Bahrain'

  • Condition

    Complete; entire base and lower portion are covered with a thick black burnt material.

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated by Captain Higham in the 1960s, and exported by him from Bahrain in 1968 before the passing of antiquities legislation. Collection deposited on 26 July 1971, when itemised as "18 pottery vessels, 1 pottery plug (?), 2 glass vessels, 2 strings of beads, 2 boxes of fragments" (deposit book entry 2693).

  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: WCO29916

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