ca. AD 50
2.55 in. (6.5 cm)
Not on view
A mold-blown glass flask in the shape of a date dated to around AD 50. These date-shaped flasks were among the most common mold-blown vessels of the first century. Their naturalistic appearance—both in the wrinkling of the skin and in the amber color of the glass—suggest the mold was cast from an actual date. These vessels are considered some of the best examples of the mold-blown glass technique to come from the Phoenician coast. Dates were used in food, wine, and as a sweetening agent. Date oil was also used in perfumes and medicines. The small size and narrow mouth of these date flasks suggest they once contained a precious scented oil or medicine.
Created around AD 50, in the Roman province of Syria. Acquired before 1930 by Nellie Parney Carter, Massachusetts; Donated in 1930 to Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Deaccessioned on June 27, 2002; Purchased at auction in 2002, New York; Purchased in 2002 by a Private Collection; Purchased at auction in 2012 by ArtAncient, New York; Purchased in 2017 by Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.
Notes:  The Carter family were a wealthy family living in Boston around the turn of the 20th century. Nellie Carter made donations to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on behalf of her sister in 1912, so it’s possible this date flask was collected by the family as early as 1912. It’s still unclear how the Carter family built their collection.  The artifact was donated to the museum in 1930 as seen in the accession number—30.212—on the inside rim of the flask. Based on standard accession numbering practices, this flask was the 212th artifact accessioned in 1930.  Sotheby’s, New York, December 11, 2002, lot 129, sale no. N07858.  Christie’s, December 5, 2012 lot 220, sale no. 2605.
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