This glass bowl is typical of the luxury tableware used by wealthy Romans in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. As with much glassware of this period, this bowl reproduces a form popular in pottery of the time.
There was a great demand for mosaic glass vessels among Romans in the early Empire. Producing mosaic glass was complex and labor intensive. First, rods of colored glass were fused together so that the cross section created a design, often a floral motif or a roundel. To make a bowl with this design, the preformed, composite rods called canes were cut into disks or slices. The glassmaker then arranged the disks in a pattern in the bottom of a two‑part mold. When heated, the glass disks fused together to form the vessel. Finally, the rough vessel was released from the mold and the surface was ground down to as little as half its original thickness. The making of a mosaic glass vessel could take several days; their expense was due to the amount of labor involved in each piece.