Published: May 18, 2018 By

Catalogue Entry Photograph of a clear glass jar with a rounded body, two handles that connect the shoulders to the mouth, from the side against a neutral gray background.

From the Catalogue of Ancient Glass in the University of Colorado Museum

Gift of H. Medill Sarkisian and Justine Sarkisian Rodriguez (1979)
Transferred to CU Art Museum (2008)
Height: 8.3 cm
Diameter (max.): 6.4 cm
Roman, 3rd to 4th century C.E.

Classification: Isings Form 61; Harden Fabric 4 or debased Fabric 3

Description: Thick rim folded out. Two trailed handles attached from either side of rim to shoulder. Short funnel neck. Body spherical, but somewhat flattened. Fluting on lower half of body. Relatively thick base concave with pontil mark. Transparent with bluish-green tint. Some iridescence and dirt. Crack beneath one handle. Blown, handles added separately.

Comment: This design is in imitation of bronze and ceramic vessels that similarly held oil and perfumes. Examples come from all over the Roman Empire, but a disproportionately large number have been excavated north of the Black Sea. Other examples are Isings 1971, no. 42 (in Heerlen); Hayes 1975, no. 119; and Sorokina 1987, fig. 1.1.


Aryballoi were small containers for oils and perfumes.

There is a small pontil mark on the base of this aryballos. A pontil was used during the final shaping of glass vessels. When a vase was being blown, it was connected to a blowpipe at the mouth (top) of the vessel. When it came time to detach the vase from the blowpipe, a staff, or pontil, was heated and stuck onto the bottom of the vase. This allowed the glassworker to snap the blowpipe off of the top of the glass and keep hold of the vessel from the bottom. Then the glass piece was held by the pontil while the mouth was reheated and smoothed. Pontil marks show up on many flasks and were rarely erased after the glass cooled. Before the pontil was invented, glassworkers used clamps to hold the vessel by the neck when snapping it off the blowpipe (1).


  1. E. Marianne Stern, Roman Mold-Blown Glass (Toledo, Ohio: Toledo Museum of Art, 1995): 43-44.


  • Hayes, J. W. Roman and Pre-Roman Glass in the Royal Ontario Museum. Toronto: 1975.
  • Isings, C. Roman Glass in Limburg. Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff Publishing, 1971.
  • Sorokina, N. P. “Glass Aryballoi (First-Third Centuries A.D.) from the Northern Black Sea Region,” Journal of Glass Studies 29 (1987): 40-46.