Glass vessels in the Museum of Taurida
The Central Museum of Taurida has one of the largest archaeological collections in Crimea. Items from it belong to the primitive, ancient and medieval eras. The collection began to form by the members of the Tavricheskaya Scientific Commission in the late 80s. XIX century. and the transfer of items from other museum institutions in Crimea. Also, items came from individuals in the form of donations. Many items were discovered during excavations of Crimean burial grounds: Neizats, Luchistoe, Druzhnoye, etc.
The state budgetary institution of the Republic of Crimea “Central Museum of Tavrida” (until 2006 it was the Crimean Republican Museum of Local Lore) is one of the largest scientific and educational institutions of Crimea, engaged in the collection, storage and study of the historical and cultural heritage and natural resources of Crimea. The Central Museum of Tavrida plays a unique role in the system of museum institutions of the Republic of Crimea. This is the only place where the available visualized information on nature, resources, archeology, history, ethnography and economy of the entire Crimean peninsula is concentrated. The Central Museum of Taurida is an important information and educational center of the republic, a kind of “model” of Crimea and a unique guide to its regions.
The museum was founded in 1921 immediately after the end of the Civil War as a result of the merger of a number of public and private collections: the Museum of Antiquities and the Archives of the Taurida Scientific Archive Commission, the Natural History Museum of the Taurida Provincial Zemstvo (founded in 1899) and others. His collection was also replenished with exhibits from the nationalized collections of the southern coastal palaces and estates of the Crimea. At the same time, the museum was transferred to the unique in its content the scientific and regional library of the Tavrichesky zemstvo “Tavrika”.
The collection of the museum has about 120 thousand exhibits, including a collection of minerals and paleontological specimens, herbariums, a significant collection of historical and household items, a unique collection of graphics of the 18th-19th centuries with views of the Crimea, a substantial photo and documentary fund. The museum keeps interesting samples of ancient weapons, objects of decorative and applied art, ethnographic things. The basis of the museum collection and the most extensive part of it is the archaeological collection, which has been formed from the very inception of the museum and continues to grow annually.
The time has come to present this collection not only in the exposition and at temporary exhibitions of the museum, but also in the form of catalogs that will give an exhaustive picture of the objects of cultural heritage stored at the WTC. Such an opportunity is given to us by the implementation of the program “Development of culture and preservation of the cultural heritage of the Republic of Crimea”, adopted by the Ministry of Culture of Crimea after the historical reunification of the peninsula with Russia in 2014.
The history of glassmaking goes back several millennia. It originated in the 4th – 3rd millennium BC. in the Nile Valley and in Mesopotamia independently of each other. Apparently, a man first encountered glass in the manufacture of glazed ceramics or faience. Initially, glass was used to create jewelry that was valued no less than products made of precious stones and metals. A similar practice continued in subsequent eras, however, along with jewelry, ancient craftsmen learned to repeat the shapes of ceramic or metal dishes using glass. Also, many elements of the metallurgical process styles, molds for casting products, the process of cold and hot working) were introduced into glassmaking without any special changes. There is an opinion that, according to a number of technological features, glass was originally identified with metals.
In II -1 millennium BC. technological methods in glassmaking have not undergone significant changes. The most common was the so-called. The “core technique”, which began to be used from the middle of the 5th millennium BC. for the manufacture of hollow vessels in the Middle East. A little later, glassmakers mastered the technique of casting and pressing. Glass vessels were cast into pre-prepared forms, and after cooling they were subjected to hot and cold processing (carving, polishing, grinding). The products were made of thick glass. For a long time, the takal technique dominated until it was supplanted by more advanced glass blowing methods.
On the territory of Crimea, the earliest finds of glass vessels date back to the turn of the 6th – 5th centuries. BC. All of them come from the large ancient centers of the peninsula. The number of glassware in the 5th – 4th centuries BC. gradually increases, as evidenced by material from the necropolis of Panticapaeum. Many finds of glass vessels in ancient policies on both sides of the Cimmerian Bosporus date back to the same time. In the following centuries, the number of glassware not only in the Bosporus, but also in 5 other centers of the Northern Black Sea region, increased, which can be associated with the strengthening and development of trade relations with the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor.
In the 1st century. BC. glassware begins to penetrate the Crimean foothills. And although glass vessels were not very popular among the local Scythian-Sarmatian population, nevertheless, there are known finds of fragmented bowls and amphorisks in Late Scythian necropolises and settlements. It is worth noting that at the turn of the era, a significant amount of glass promises was used in the cult practices of the population of mountainous and pre-mountainous Crimea, as evidenced by a large number of various bowls, amphorisks, balsamariums, glasses found during the study of mountain sanctuaries.
Images of glass vessels, jugs and oinokha, kanfars and bowls filled with fruit can be seen in numerous antique frescoes and mosaics. Initially, glass vessels were treated as luxury items, but the irreplaceable properties of glass were soon appreciated and since then, the inhabitants of the polis did not do without glass vessels in everyday life. After the spread of the blowing technique at the turn of the 1st century. BC. – in. AD glass vessels flooded the markets of ancient cities. New techniques in glassmaking made it possible to manufacture vessels in the hundreds and thousands. Small bottles used in perfumery for storing aromatic substances, at the early stages of glassmaking development, became one of the most common categories of tableware found during excavations of ancient settlements and necropolises. After the inhabitants of the ancient cities began to use glass vessels in everyday life, they began to acquire various forms that correspond to their functionality. Flasks, large pots or urns were used to store liquids; jugs, dishes and plates were used to serve food to the table; they used glasses, canfars and bowls for eating. As mentioned above, they were also used to store incense and oils. They could well serve as a decorative function or the role of toys, since, for example, small amphoras were small copies of amphorae, which were one of the most common types of ceramic dishes. In Roman funeral practice, glass vessels could perform the same role as all other objects in the burial: they were to be used by the deceased in the afterlife. With the beginning of the study of the monuments of antiquity in the XVIII century. and later, for a long time, the finds of glass vessels did not arouse much interest among researchers of the antiquities of Tavria. Apparently, this should be connected with the poor preservation of the items and, as a result, the impossibility of studying them on a par with other artifacts. Often, a few small glass vessels published on the pages of scientific publications of the 19th – early 20th centuries were cited only as examples of highly artistic products of antique glass blowers and nothing more. They were accompanied only by a brief description and rarely by graphic or photographic images. However, both the capital and provincial museums of the Russian Empire were constantly replenished with new and often unique antique glass products. The study of these collections will make it possible not only to expand our understanding of the development of antique glass-making, but to trace the contacts between the ancient centers and the barbarian population in the Northern Black Sea region and in Crimea in particular.
The collection of the Central Museum of Taurida actually began to form at the end of the 19th century. with the active participation of the Tavrichesky Scientific Archive Commission and continues to be replenished with new exhibits in our days. Despite the fact that the museum does not have things that were obtained as a result of systematic excavations of any ancient monument, it has a rich collection of antique exhibits, including glass vessels.
In 1887, over 80 antiquities, including ten glass vessels, were transferred to the TUAK archaeological museum from the Kerch Museum of Antiquities. Now we can say for sure that the Central Museum of Taurida stores from this acquisition: a squat jug with a cylindrical body made of transparent blue glass, made in the 1st-2nd centuries. AD; a tall jug with a rounded body, 4th-5th centuries AD; fragments of balsamarium and a “bottle” of the 1st-2nd centuries. AD made of transparent green and colorless glass; one whole balsamarium of the 1st-2nd centuries. AD Most likely, the listed things come from excavations or accidental finds made either on the territory of the ancient Panticapaeum, or some other ancient city of the Bosporus. They could get here both from the western and the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire.
The collection of the Museum of Antiquities was replenished by the finds of “antiquities found near Simferopol, on the beam going from the Petrovsky fountain to the military cemetery near ancient Neapolis”, handed over by the chairman of TUAC A. Kh. Steven. It is a rounded glass of the late Roman period made of transparent colorless glass; cylindrical glass of the 1st-4th centuries. AD of transparent bluish glass: balsamarium of the 1st-2nd centuries. AD made of frosted green glass; two balsamariums of the 2nd-4th centuries AD made of frosted yellow and blue glass. It can be assumed that these vessels really come from Scythian Naples, however, it is not known whether they were found as a result of exploration (or even excavation) or acquired from local residents. The listed glass vessels find analogies both in the synchronous barbarian monuments of the foothill Crimea and in the ancient centers of the Northern Black Sea region. Separately, it should be said about a glass with a spherical body with an edge tied in the upper part. No analogies could be found for this vessel, except for a glass from the Druzhnoye burial ground, which cannot be dated earlier than the second half of the 3rd century.
From a small museum at the Simferopol private gymnasium E.I. Svishev, glass balsamarium of the 1st-2nd centuries was transferred. AD made of transparent blue glass. In 1913, the former director of the Simferopol Commercial School, curator of the Museum of Antiquities TUAK N.Ye. Slavinsky donated to the museum a small spherical jug of the first centuries AD made of transparent glass with a blue tint.
According to the data now available, at least 33 glass vessels from Roman and early medieval times were kept in the TUAC Museum of Antiquities. It can be assumed that they were all found on Crimean sites. The vessels were produced, promising in everything, in glass-making workshops on the territory of the Roman Empire, and they came to the Crimea as a result of the trade and economic activities of the population of the ancient centers of the Northern Black Sea region.