Silk Road Collection

Core-formed bottle with pointed bottom

  • Northern Mesopotamia
  • 15th century BC
  • glass
  • H12.5×W6.4cm

When glass was first invented, it was used in ornaments such as beads, and it was not until the 15th century BC that it was used as a vessel. The oldest glass vessels were made using the “core-forming” method. In this technique, clay or another material is used as a core, and it is shape mimics the interior of the intended vessel. Molten glass is then wrapped around the core, and after the glass hardens, the clay is scraped out. Vessels made out of glass using this method are called “core-formed glass.” The surface of this glass vessel is decorated with a feather design, which was made by wrapping layered bands of colored molten glass, and scratching the surface while the glass is hot to create a zigzag pattern. This piece is one of the oldest examples of core-formed glass, and one of the few of its kind in the world. Making it was very labor-intensive; and it is thought to have contained expensive and fragrant oil. While its surface has deteriorated, some of the yellow and white wrapped glass band design still remains.