TWO-HANDLED DOUBLE BALSAMARIUM
TWO-HANDLED DOUBLE BALSAMARIUM of Joop van der Groen
Roman Empire, Syrian-Palestinian area │ 4th century AD
Size: ↑ 10,4 cm; Ø max. incl. side-handles 5,3 cm; Ø rim 4,0 cm. │ Weight: 63 gram
Technique: Free blown. Tooled.
Classification: Stern (2001) type I, class C2a.
Description: Transparent very light green glass; handles very dark purple, nearly black glass. (See Remarks.) Two tubular compartments made from one single free blown tube, pressed in from the sides to form a diaphragm. Under right compartment remainder of pontil mark. Rim folded outward, upward and inward. On each side a handle on the body, drawn up angular and attached to the body and the rim.
Remarks: Sometimes Roman glass seems to be black like the handles of this double balsamarium. In reality Roman glass is never black. With the help of very powerful light you can see the real colour: very dark green or very dark brownish green or (in this case) very dark purple.
The function of a double balsamarium is the following. One compartment was used to store black galena powder, while the other was for making this with a spatula into a cosmetic pasta. The people in the Eastern Empire used the pasta to outline the eyes in black to protect them against the sharp sunlight and the irritating flies.
Provenance: 1998 – 2010 Private collection of P.E. Cuperus, Laren (NL), no. PEC022.
Before 1998 in the private collection of C.A. Hessing (NL).
Published: A collection of Roman glass (Cuperus, 2009).
Reference: Roman and Pre-Roman Glass in the Royal Ontario Museum (J. Hayes, 1975), no. 359; Ancient Glass at the Newark Museum from the Eugene Schaefer Collection of Antiquities (S. Auth, 1976), no. 482 en no. 483; Antike Glãser – Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel (M. Boosen, 1984), no.147; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Collection of Mediterranean Antiquities, Vol. 1. The Ancient Glass (B. Caron & E. Zoïtopoúlou, 2008), no. 137.