In antiquity, glassmaking was an arduous process that demanded the use of costly minerals imported from exotic locations. In the early years of Ancient Rome, glass vessels were found exclusively in elite households and often displayed in a show of wealth. By the early 1st millennium C.E., Rome’s expansion had increased its access to the raw materials for glassmaking, allowing for production to flourish over the next few centuries.

This handsome bottle was a standard vessel for one of the many unguents and ointments used by ancient Romans in their everyday lives. The gentle ribbing that runs diagonally up its sides shows the extent to which ancient glassblowers had advanced in their techniques over a very short period of time.