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Glass & Glass-Making
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Page 4

Roman Glass / Period of Augustus (63 B.C.-14 A.D.)
Period of Augustus
(63 B.C.-14 A.D.)
and it was not long before Rome carried the art to a point that had never before been reached.
    The great number of specimens and fragments dug up in all parts of Europe seem to prove the theory that glass was even more used in the ancient than in the modern world. There is no process used in present times that was unknown to the Romans two thousand years ago. They used glass for every conceivable purpose, even for such small articles as dice, and balls to cool their heated hands. They made glass in every color but ruby, and they made opaque, mottled and variegated glass. They decorated glass with painting, enameling, gilt inlay and engraving; and they cut it to resemble cameos.
    They also made milky-white and opalescent glass, a mosaic formed of myriad patterns (later imitated by the Venetians as millefiori), and every kind of filigree, and lace-like glass; and they imprisoned spiral threads of different colors in the stems of glasses for decoration in a style that was made hundreds of years later on the island of Murano.
    Nothing illustrates Roman skill better than the story of the Emperor Heliogabalus (205-222 A.D.), who, wishing to play a joke on some guests, invited them to a feast. When they took their places at the immense table, set out with the most elaborate viands, confections and fruits (history tells us how luxurious Roman cookery was), they found that all these delicacies were imitations made of glass!
    Perhaps the most typical Roman work is the cameo glass. Of this nature is the Portland Vase, from the supposed tomb of the Emperor Alexander Severus (who died
Saracenic Glass (Mosque lamp of the early part of the 14th century)
Mosque lamp of the early part of the
14th century. In the Metropolitan
Museum of Art, New York
about A.D. 235), and a similar urn (Naples Museum), which was found in Pompeii, carefully preserved for future ages by the irruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

Byzantine Glass

    When the barbarians advanced upon Rome, Constantine transferred the seat of Empire to Byzantium (Constantinople) in A.D. 330. Among the artisans that were taken to the new city, glass-makers were not the least important. In the Byzantine style are the famous "Hedwig Glasses" (only seven are known), named from the one in Breslau associated with St. Hedwig, patroness of Silesia and Poland. They are thick, heavy tumblers, dark in color, and deeply cut on a wheel, the figures in high relief.
    To Byzantium is ascribed the fashioning