Hellenistic glass

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Hellenistic glass was glass produced during the Hellenistic period, from the conquests of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) to the expansion of the Roman Empire (second half of the 1st c. BC - 476) in the Mediterranean, Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. Glassmaking at this time was based on the technological traditions of the Classical antiquity and the Late Bronze Age, but was marked by transition from limited production of luxury objects made for the social elite to mass production of affordable glass vessels used by the broader public to satisfy everyday needs. For information on how to export glass products or any product, please refer to this guide How To Export Products.

After the introduction of translucent and transparent glass, attempts were made to mimic precious and semi-precious stones, as well as rock crystal.


Core-formed glass vessels produced in the Mediterranean from 525 to 50 BC were the most numerous and widespread (Tatton-Brown and Andrews 2004). Core-formed vessels were generally small in size, opaque and designed to store perfumes, scented oils and cosmetics (Tatton-Brown and Andrews 2004). The most common shapes were alabastra, amphoriskoi, aryballoi and lentoid aryballoi, oinochoai (jugs), and for the first time in the Hellenistic period hudriskai (three-handled flasks) and unguentaria (unguent bottles) (Fossing 1940).

During the second half of the 3rd c. BC, mosaic glass, also known as ‘millefiori’, literally, a thousand flowers, emerged. The group consists mostly of fused and slumped broad plates and shallow dishes with upright or out-splayed rims or hemispherical bowls. Sub-groups of mosaic glass production are ‘network’ or ‘lacework’ hemispherical bowls and vessels with meandering or spiral decorative patterns that imitate onyx. Often these bowls had a rim formed of a single ‘network’ cane of spirally twisted threads which gives a ‘striped’ effect (Tatton-Brown and Andrews 2004). It is best represented in burial contexts from several large tombs in Canosa di Puglia (ancient Canusium) in Italy (Grose 1989). They are open vessels since they are made with a mould but still opaque, like the widely produced core-formed vessels.


1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenistic_glass

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