Biblical Archaeology Review 37:6, November/December 2011

Strata: Exhibit Watch: Ancient Glassmaker’s Wares on Display at Israel Museum

Through January 28, 2012
The Israel Museum
Jerusalem, Israel

The Israel Museum, together with collector Shlomo Moussaeiff, has brought together an exceedingly rare collection of ancient glass vessels crafted and signed by the renowned first-century C.E. Phoenician glassmaker Ennion. The exhibit, Made by Ennion, includes nine exquisite pieces of mold-blown glass—several on loan from Moussaeiff—that were decorated and signed by the master craftsman at his workshop in the Phoenician city of Sidon. Also on display are scores of unsigned pieces that were likely crafted by Ennion and his contemporaries.

Phoenician artisans like Ennion revolutionized glassmaking by blowing glass into molds impressed with decorations. His wares, including cups, jugs and flasks, like the one shown here, are decorated with delicate geometric and floral designs, and often have his signature in Greek impressed within a tabula ansata frame. The vessels were used by elites in houses and banquet halls across the Roman world, including Jerusalem. Several Ennion vessels, some of which are on display in the exhibit, were found amid the destruction of opulent Jerusalem houses destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.

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