Roman Rock Crystal Amphoriskos
An ancient Roman hexagonally faceted rock crystal (clear quartz) amphoriskos with angular handles, and a lathed knobbed foot.
Ca. 1st century AD.
Rock crystal (clear quartz) was a very rare commodity in the Classical Mediterranean. The majority of the material was imported from as far away as India. The main workshops producing vessels made of rock crystal were in Alexandria. As the process of carving vessels from crystal was very laborious and the material itself was very rare, objects of this type were expensive luxury items in the Roman world. The Romans believed that rock crystal was ice that had been hardened through intense freezing (Pliny the Elder: Natural History 37.9). Such a miraculous stone was believed by the ancients to have amuletic powers.
Cf. Hans-Peter Buhler, Antike Gefasse aus Edelsteinen, (Mainz, 1973), nos. 56 and 57.
Formerly in a Portuguese private collection, acquired in Spain in the 1980s, previously in a German private collection, early 1970s.