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Kohl Flask and Unguentaria

September 9, 2011

Kohl Flask and Unguentaria

These beautiful glass vessels were used to store unguents or scented oils for personal adornment. You can imagine these small containers, like perfume vials, carried on the body.

The unguentaria demonstrate the earliest use of glass, dating back to ancient Egypt. They show two different early glass techniques. The one on the right was formed around a clay core, and then molten strands of glass were wrapped around it and shaped with a little bronze tool. When the piece cooled, the core was carefully broken out. Transparent leaded glass, developed later during the Ptolemaic period, was blown rather than formed around a core.

Through Carleton's collection generally focuses on modern material, we have groups of wonderful objects like these from the ancient Near East and Africa.