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Ancient Roman Glass Jewlery - The Tiny Treasures of the Once Mighty Empire
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Special Note: These are one-of-a-kind Roman Glass Earrings made with genuine Roman Glass shards dating to approximately 400 AD, that have been shaped into beads. They come with a full-color Certificate of Authenticity detailing their creation, use, loss and recovery!
These small, frosted, and beautifully-hued glass beads are tiny ambassadors of one of the most legendary empires the world has ever seen. Today, they are carefully conserved and shaped into beads that tell the story of times long past - the story of an empire that still shapes the world today.
The busy metropolis of 100 AD was teaming with sound, color and activity. Markets, temples and homes were filled with glass vessels of all kinds - cooking oils, perfumes and jewelry were made from the hand-blown vessels made throughout the empire.
From large canisters to tiny tear vases, glass was an every-day essential then as it is now. Lost to time, some of these vessels are recovered... as broken shards that give us clues to the daily life of the average Roman. Lovingly and delicately ground by craftsmen, a few of these shards are made into Roman Glass Beads - it is these beads you see here.
April's Notes: Working with ancient Roman Glass is a reminder of the hand-made nature of each glass vessel that was created by a Roman glass blower. Subtle differences in color, inclusions of grains of iron or dirt, and the texture of the glass from smooth to porous give each bead its own unique personality. Combining the colors into one piece of jewelry celebrates these differences while creating a truly one-of-a-kind piece.
Delicate and beautiful, useful and decorative, Roman glass objects have been recovered across the Roman Empire. Used in the home, on the battlefield, in industry, and as funerary objects, most glass was used to produce vessels of every type and description, although mosaic tiles and window glass were also produced.
The Romans adopted Greek techniques for producing glass, at first producing brightly colored cast glass vessels. The majority of the manufacturing techniques of Greek origin were time-consuming, and produced a heavy, thick-walled vessel that required much finishing. Plus, importing raw materials for the production of raw glass limited its use – and made it an expensive and high-status material.
This made glass production during the Republican period (509 BC - 27 BC) a small, exclusive craft. Still, with the massive growth and influence of the Roman empire by the end of the Republican period, Roman glasswares were already making their way from Western Asia to the Kushan Empire in Afghanistan and India and as far as the Han Empire of China; the first Roman glass found in China came from an early 1st century BC tomb at Guangzhou.
But with the 1st century AD, rapid technical growth led to the rise of glass blowing and the widespread creation of colorless or ‘aqua’ glasses – the aqua color coming from the natural properties of the sea sand used to create the glass.
Glass vessels were produced and available throughout the Roman world, with specialized luxury glasses being prized, and very expensive, possessions. Strangely, at the dawn of the 1st century, despite the growing place glass held in the everyday life of the average Roman, there was no Latin word for it.
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