This small glass vessel is mostly preserved, with shallow, slightly sloping sides and a preserved pontil mark on its bottom. A pontil mark is left behind from the place where a rod would have been attached to the hot glass. Having this type of mark indicates that the glass was blown freehand and not in a mold (which does not use the rod). Originally a clear glass, this piece is covered with an opaque greenish yellow oxidation. Glass found in excavations has often gone through a process of decay that changes its surface color. Glass was widely produced and used during the Sasanian period. Although colorless glass was highly valued, the majority of glass finds are slightly tinted, usually greenish or yellow tint, although reddish and brown tints also occur. Glass finds from this period include a variety of types such as small cosmetic containers, serving vessels, and drinking glasses. This piece was excavated from a house at the site of Ma’aridh II in the Ctesiphon area.
The city of Ctesiphon was located on the east bank of the Tigris River, 20 miles (32 km) south of modern Baghdad in Iraq. It flourished for more than 800 years as the capital of the Parthians and the Sasanians, the last two dynasties to rule the ancient Near East before the Islamic conquest in the seventh century. Systematic excavations in the Ctesiphon area were undertaken by an expedition in 1928–29 sponsored by the German Oriental Society (Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft). The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Staatliche Museen, Berlin, undertook a joint expedition for one season in 1931–32. Several excavations were conducted, including at the main palace (Taq-i Kisra), in a small fortified area south of the palace at Tell Dheheb, at multiple houses at the mounds of Ma’aridh, and at additional houses at a small mound called Umm ez-Za’tir.
Over the course of the excavations in the Ctesiphon area, six houses from a series of small mounds called el Ma’aridh were excavated. These houses follow typical Sasanian design with a mix of square and elongated rooms. Ma’aridh II is a large house that is entered through a small entry way rather than directly from the street. The house is divided into a utilitarian, or service, sector on the eastern side of the building, and a monumental decorated space to the west of the entryway. The western rooms were decorated with pillars, a double horseshoe archway, and stucco reliefs. A long barrel vaulted arched room, 19 meters in length, was probably the most important room of the house. It was entered through a smaller room with four pillars. This large house, with the excavated portion revealing more than 1800 square meters, represents an elite household.
Excavation Number: O.1512
1931–32, excavated by the Joint Expedition of the Staatliche Museen of Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; acquired by the Museum in 1932, ceded in the division of finds.