Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 2, 2020

18R Roman Glass Aryballos of  The Allaire Collection

18R Aryballos

Date: Late first or second century Height: 7.5 cm Weight: 46.8 g

Remarks: This two-handled globular flask was used for carrying oil to the public baths during the first centuries of the Roman Empire. Many of the remaining examples still have the bronze rings or chains attached to the handles. This example is not typical of the more common heavy aryballoi, but is thinly blown and has a delicacy which is enhanced by its fine proportions and silvery weathering.

Reference: , Ancient and Islamic Glass, Paris, Loudmer, Kevorkian 1985 Paris Sale #277, Romeins Glas, Joop van der Groen page 201, Fascinating Luxury from Antiquity, The Windmill Collection of Roman Glass, page 162, Roman and early Byzantine Glass by Hans van Rossum MA page 202

ARYBALLOI and the bath rituals in Roman times

Author: Hans van Rossum English rendering by: Theo Zandbergen

Roman Bathhouse (Thermae) in Bath (UK)

Roman Bathhouse (Thermae) in Bath (UK)

“One should not bring the bath oils to the public baths in a glass container as these can break and cause injury.” (Derekh Erezt Rabbah ~ 160 – 220 CE)

The above advice by the Jewish scholar was, probably, not so much followed. The glass container undoubtedly referred to the aryballoi. Exactly that type of container was frequently used in the Roman thermal baths. The word thermal stems from thermós, meaning warm. Thermal baths were complexes with warm and cold baths more or less like our modern sauna’s or baths. Massages were also available perhaps using the (fragrant) oils brought from home. The baths were quite important to the Romans. These were not only facilities to get rid of the dirt and grime but, also meeting points for discussions, making deals or debating politics. The baths played an important social and business role. Large complexes have been unearthed like the one in Heerlen in the Netherlands. The largest one in the Low Lands.

The aryballos was during Roman times an inseparable accoutrement for the visitors to the baths. She or he carried the aryballos from home with a small attached handle or with e.g. a bronze chain and stopper. Entering the baths one would at first go to the apodyteria, the respective changerooms for female and male visitors. The smaller baths usually had only one apodyterium and used different opening hours for females and males. The clothes were nicely stored away and the visitor went to the a caldarium. A space with a temperature of approx. 40º C. and a humidity of around 80%. Just like our nowadays sauna’s. The plunge pool was called the alveus. From there one went to the sudatorium, the sweat room. Just like our modern sauna’s. From there one could go to the tepidarium, a room with a moderate temperature. One could also see the masseur handing him the aryballos with the fragrant oils brought from home which could be applied.

The room shown above is to store the clothes nicely away and other one of the bath’s in the Thermae, complex

The masseur would disperse some sand over the oily body followed by cleansing using a strigilis, a scraper made of bronze, steel or glass to finish the cleansing process. The body got a nice smell from the applied oils. To finish off one visited the frigidarium, the cold room. There was enough time in the whole process to socialize. One would get dressed again and go her or his way. This cleansing ritual was followed for quite some centuries and ended somewhere in the 4th century CE, probably due to the influence of Christianity.

To see the complete article click on this active link. GLASS ARYBALLOI and the bath rituals in Roman times

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