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Item sold
Roman Aubergine Perfume bottle
Geneva | Vessels
Date:  1st Century AD
Culture:  Roman
Category:  Vessels
Medium:  Glass
Dimension: H: 9.7 cm
Provenance: Ex-private Swiss collection, 2000.
Serial No: 14535

This example was blown in an aubergine-colored glass with beautiful and varied white streaks. The slightly asymmetrical shape is characterized by a piriform body, which tapers in the upper part and terminates in a cylindrical neck and a rounded lip. The flattened bottom does not provide the vessel with good balance. The tapering neck would have served to hang the bottle from a string.
Largely widespread from the early Imperial period, these small bottles were mass-produced using the technique of glassblowing: they nevertheless show significant variations in the shape and in the color of the glass, which make each piece almost unique.
Also known as balsamaria, these small flasks were intended for the transport and storage of the perfumes, or perfumed oils, that were widely used by the Romans in their daily life. The analysis of the remains collected in preserved vessels indicates that these cosmetics were composed of oil or wax associated with various plant essences.
Glassblowing was introduced towards the middle of the 1st century B.C. in the Syrian-Palestinian region, and later spread all throughout the Mediterranean basin. This technical innovation completely transformed the glass industry, since it enabled glassmakers to produce tableware and storage containers in a much wider variety, and more easily and quickly than ever before. From the late Hellenistic period, glass definitely supplanted clay as a raw material for the manufacture of vessels in all areas of daily life.