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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1920.44.75
Title
Unguentarium (cosmetic bottle)
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
1st-2nd century CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Period
Roman Imperial period
Culture
Roman
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/292905
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Glass
Technique
Free-blown glass
Dimensions
4.3 cm (1 11/16 in.)
Provenance
Elizabeth Gaskell Norton, Boston, MA and Margaret Norton, Cambridge, MA (by 1920), gift; to the Fogg Museum, 1920.

Note: The Misses Norton were the daughters of Charles Elliot Norton (1827-1908).
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of the Misses Norton
Accession Year
1920
Object Number
1920.44.75
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Intact ungentarium of pale blue-green glass. Round spherical bottom; tall tubular neck; flat rim.

Classification: C. Isings, Roman Glass from Dated Finds (Djakarta: Groningen, 1957), form 6/26.
Commentary
An unguentarium is a small bottle used for ointments, perfumes, balms, and other liquids associated with the toilet. Vessels typically have a bulbous bottom and narrow, tubular neck, but lack handles. Bulbous-bottomed, glass unguentaria were one of the earliest shapes to be made using the glassblowing technique. A piriform unguentarium is distinguished by its pear-shaped base (see 2012.1.87).

The bulbous form of the unguentarium was originally made in colored glass, but by the first century CE the pale, blue-green glass seen here predominated. In later forms, the bottom flattens and the neck becomes longer.

The unguentarium is sometimes not distinguished from the balsamarium, another vessel used to hold balms and ointments (see 2003.100.7).

Subjects and Contexts

Roman Domestic Art

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu