Alabastron

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A vessel of glass paste of the type known as an alabastron. It has a stylized ovoid body, a short straight neck ending in a lip in the form of a flat disk which was designed to control the flow and quantity of the perfumed oil it contained when poured onto the skin. It has ear-shape lugs on each side to serve as handles. The piece is of a translucent dark blue colour with opaque decoration in yellow and white in a zigzag pattern.

Although the name of the vase is derived from a form of Greek ceramic, the same vessel has been made in bronze, stone and glass paste. It was used in antiquity to hold oils, especially perfumed oils for massages. The objects made from glass paste belonged to the most well-to-do strata of society and were considered to be luxury objects, and as such were exported and traded all around the Mediterranean.

Core-forming is the manufacturing technique devised to make glass vessels. It remained the most common method of making small bottles and other glass containers for over fifteen hundred years, until the late Hellenistic period. In this procedure, a removable core of material – probably a combination of clay, mud or sand and an organic binder – is built up around a metal rod the shape of the hollow of the desired vessel. The core is then covered in some fashion with hot glass, and threads of glass are trailed over the core as it is rotated. Next, the vessel is repeatedly reheated and marvered on a flat stone slab. Decoration in the form of threads or blods may then added and pressed into the surface by marvering, usually after being combed or dragged by a bronze pin or hook into feather, festoon, upright festoon or zigzag patterns. Unless repeatedly reheated and marvered, vertical indentations caused by the tooling of the threads can be remain on the body. The metal rod is then removed and the vessel annealed. Afterwards, the core is scraped out, leaving a rough, often grey or reddish interior surface. Rim-disk, handle, pad-base and base-knob are applied separately after further reheating. One they have been added, it is difficult, or almost impossible, to further marver the vessel, and any additional threads applied to the rim, rim-disk, or base are left unmarvered or only partly marvered.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

- Arveiller-Dulong, Véronique; Dominique-Nenna, Marie. Les verres antiques I. Louvre Museum. Département des Antiquités Grecques, Étrusques et Romaines.

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