Fragment of a Rock Crystal Bowl

North African (Carthage)

Not on view

Fish and shells carved in relief decorate this fragment. When the bowl was complete, it may have been suspended by chains and filled with oil for use as a lamp.

This rock crystal carving found in a cistern in Carthage (now in Tunisia, North Africa) demonstrates the quality of the arts of that great city as the Roman world became Byzantine. The Roman naturalist Pliny, describing its beauty, believed crystal to come from snow. It was thought to protect against kidney ailments and other diseases.

Fragment of a Rock Crystal Bowl, Rock crystal, North African (Carthage)

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