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Bowl

Bowl

Eastern Mediterranean, late 1st -4th century C.E.
  • Glass: free-blown, tooled, and wheel-ground
  • Height: 3 7/16 in. (8.7 cm) Diameter: 12 1/16 in. (30.6 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of Frieda Schiff Warburg, S 1214
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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This bowl from the Eastern Mediterranean was produced in the Roman style. It was made through the process of glass-blowing, which requires the glassworker to connect a blowpipe to the molten glass. Air is blown into the molten glass as a means of enlarging its size. While the glass is soft, the worker can also modify its shape. It is then removed from the blowpipe and allowed to cool. In the case of this bowl, lines were carefully incised in it after it hardened in order to create additional designs. This artifact reflects the cosmopolitan nature of life in the land of Israel at a time when wealthier residents sought to fill their homes with Roman-style items.

The Romans were known for their high level of glass production in the first -centuries of the Common Era. Skilled glassworkers could produce cups, bowls, and other items quickly and cheaply. Glass vessels became especially popular for holding food and drink because they were lightweight and did not carry the smell found in many other materials.

Discuss:

  • What material do you think this bowl is made of? Why do you say that? What do you think it might have been used for? What might you use it for today?

  • The Romans preferred to make cups and bowls out of glass, rather than clay. Why do you think that might have been? What might be the disadvantages of glass?

  • Compare this bowl with the glass shipping bottle. The bottle was made by blowing molten glass into a square mold. The bowl was "free-blown" by a glassworker, without using a mold. What do you think are the advantages or disadvantages of the different methods?

  • During the Roman Period, wealthy people in Israel liked to have Roman-style objects (like this bowl) in their homes. Why do you think that is?