Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection

ANCIENT GLASS FROM KARANIS A FIRST CENTURY GRAECO-ROMAN TOWN IN EGYPT

Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on January 19, 2019

Karanis was a town in the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt know today as Kom Oshim. It is located in the northeast corner of the Faiyum.  It was one of a number of towns established in the Arsinoite nome under Ptolemy II Philadelphus as part of a scheme to settle Greek mercenaries among the Egyptians and to exploit the potential fertile Fayum basin.

Karanis 1st BC to 5th C was mainly an agricultural town which expanded in prosperity after Augustus conquered Egypt in the 1st century and well into the 2nd century. This archaeological site was active from 1924 to 1935.  The glass found has a very particular style and type and is sometimes referred to as Karanis glass.  These vessels may have been made locally or imported from some other location in Egypt.

Francis W. Kelsey, a professor of Latin language and literature at the University of Michigan received grants to search for an excavation site in 1924. Starting excavations of Karanis in 1925, his goal was to “increase exact knowledge rather than the amassing of collections”, with a focus on common people. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is located at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.  KMA houses an important collection of provenanced glass fragments and vessels (ca. 1,300 items) from the archaeological site of Karanis the Greco-Roman Egyptian town, in Egypt. The glass pictured below is from this museum.

More recent excavations have been done by the Cairo University, the French Institute, and for the last few years by a combined collaboration of UCLA and the University of Groningen (RUG) in the Netherlands.

One Response

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  1. theo zandbergen said, on January 19, 2019 at 9:43 am

    John, you have done a remarkable job in getting all these images of “Karanis” glass together. You made the objects in the Kelsey museum finally accessible. The access to pictures from the Kelsey museum site is, at least for me, a nightmare. Sure hope the Kelsey will learn from your comprehensive presentation of very important objects. Applaus for your effort and the presentation thereof. theo


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