Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection

Roman Iridescent Glass Beaker

Posted in 2. Ancient Glass, CATEGORIES OF GLASS TYPES ON THIS SITE, Roman Glass by Allaire Collection of Glass on April 23, 2014


The simple shape of this vessel resembles our modern drinking glasses. It is pale blue/green with iridescence. The exterior is decorated with faint wheel cut bands: three parallel lines around the center, one band near the base. This beaker has a ground rim and flattened base. The  beauty of this cup is in the natural iridescence which has formed on it.  Beaker is intact. What is iridescence?

Iridescent Glass

Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow, lends her name to the word iridescence a lustrous, rainbow-like play of color. Iridescence was admired by modern glassmakers but was not an intentional effect made by ancient artisans. The effect was found on pieces of ancient glass where burial conditions caused alkali (soluble salt) to leach from the glass and form layers that eventually separate and flake off. The remaining surface layers reflect light differently, resulting in an iridescent appearance. see Corning Museum of Glass


Date: First Century A.D.

H: 9.3 cm. Rim D: 6.5 cm.

Cf. Auth 1976 #368 (The Newark Museum)


02R Roman beaker with wheel cut lines

One Response

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  1. Lawrence H. Conklin said, on July 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Dear Allaires,

    I was delighted to find, quite by accident, your most interesting blog and I plan to return to it often. Thanks for all the effort.

    I am a professional mineralogist who has developed a late-in-life interest in ancient glass. Since I am a direct descendant of glassmaker John Conklin who was hired to that craft in Salem, MA around 1637, that interest should have surfaced many years ago. A case of better late than never?

    Best regards,

    Lawrence Conklin.

    Lawrence H. Conklin
    Pond Hill Farm
    900 Clintonville Road
    Wallingford, CT 06492

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