Glass jug

Period: Mid to Late Imperial

Date: 3rd–4th century A.D.

Culture: Roman

Medium: Glass; blown

Dimensions: 6 7/16in. (16.4cm)
Other: 5 5/16in. (13.5cm)

Classification: Glass

Credit Line: The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76

Accession Number: 74.51.134


Before the invention of blowing, most glass containers were restricted in size and had limited uses. The invention of the blowpipe allowed craftsmen to inflate a glob of glass and make large-bellied vessels such as this pitcher, whose shape would have been nearly impossible to create by casting. Glass thus became the ideal material not only for drinking cups and bowls but also for serving jugs for wine or water and storage jars (17.194.219) for both liquids and dry goods. An added advantage of blown glass was its transparency, which made the contents visible so that users could see what and how much a bottle contained. Because of these qualities, glass retained its superiority over other media (such as pottery and metalwork) until the advent of plastics in the modern era.