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.
Mrs. William H. Moore, Potomac (until 1955)
Carton, Louis Benjamin Charles. "Objets de Cristal de Roche Decouverts a Carthage." Comptes Rendus des Seances de l'Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres 5 (1915). no. 2, p. 338.
Miner, Dorothy, ed. Early Christian and Byzantine Art: An Exhibition Held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 1947. no. 539, p. 111, pl. LXXV.
Bühler, Hans-Peter. Antike Gefässe aus Edelsteinen. Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1973. no. 115b, p. 78.
Weitzmann, Kurt, ed. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. no. 186, p. 186.