Archaeologists often refer to the term balsarium to designate this class of vessels, which were largely widespread all throughout the Roman Empire. As attested by the analysis of the remains collected in the preserved vessels found in Pompeii (traces of oil and/or wax mixed with various plant essences), these balsamaria were intended for the storage and transport of the perfumes used in everyday life by the Romans, who had much more elaborate hygiene behaviors than many populations of the later epochs. Very popular from the early Imperial period, these small bottles were mass-produced using the technique of glassblowing: nevertheless, the variations in the shape and in the color of the glass made each example virtually unique.
This specimen was blown in a beautiful cobalt blue-colored glass. The piriform body is provided with a long, cylindrical neck that terminates in a flat lip. The flattened bottom provides the container with good balance.
Glassblowing was introduced towards the middle of the 1st century B.C. in the Syrian-Palestinian region, and later spread all throughout the Mediterranean basin. This technical innovation completely transformed the glass industry, since it enabled glassmakers to produce tableware and storage containers in a much wider variety, and more easily and quickly than ever before. From the late Hellenistic period, glass definitely supplanted clay as a raw material for the manufacture of vessels in all areas of daily life.