2,000-year-old Roman glass bowl discovered in the Netherlands – ARTnews.com

A blue glass bowl estimated to be around 2,000 years old has been unearthed by archaeologists excavating a site in Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands. The site is located along the Waal River, about 10 km from the German border, and its creator may have had contact with the Roman Empire.

With no visible cracks or chips, the bowl remains intact, making it a remarkable find. It is thought to have been made in glass workshops in German cities such as Cologne and Xanten, or possibly in Italy. Archaeologist Pepijn van de Geer told the Dutch regional newspaper Of Stentor“The bowl is of Roman manufacture.”

At the time the bowl was created, Nijmegen was a Roman military camp. Later it grew in size and became the first settlement in present-day Netherlands to be named a Roman city, thus granting Roman citizenship to local inhabitants.

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“For the inhabitants of the settlement on the Winkelsteeg, this bowl was of great value,” said van de Geer, adding that the inhabitants “had a great need for leather and liked to buy cattle hides”. One theory is that locals working in outposts along the upper border of Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland for the Roman army would have been paid well enough to buy a piece like the newly found bowl.

No bigger than the palm of a hand, the bowl features a ridged vertical band pattern with a rim at the top. “These dishes were made by letting molten glass cool and harden on a mold,” van de Geer explains. “The striped pattern was drawn while the glass mixture was still liquid. The metal oxide causes the blue color.

During the excavations, the team also uncovered Roman tombs, houses and wells, as well as artefacts such as crockery and jewelry, which van de Geer hopes can be used “to learn more about these people and their way of life”. The site was being excavated ahead of a plan to build new housing and green development in the area.

David C. Barham