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Ancient glass from Israel and other countries at the Metropolitan Museum

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Rare glass vessels from several Israeli museums are among the ancient glassworks now on exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art through April 13. The Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv have loaned examples of early first-century Roman mold-blown glass signed by a craftsman called Ennion, and products of his workshop, to the exhibit entitled Ennion: Master of Roman Glass.

Glassmaking originated around 2500 B.C. in Mesopotamia, and by the mid-first millennium B.C. had spread throughout the ancient world. The number of vessels made from glass remained limited, however, until the introduction of two important technical advances – the use of the blowpipe and closed multipart molds – in the late first century B.C. and the early first century A.D., respectively. These advances revolutionized the glass industry under the Roman Empire, making glass vessels accessible to all and allowing producers to create a wide range of shapes, sizes, and usages. Some of the earliest vessels made by mold blowing bear the names of the craftsmen who “signed” the molds. Glassware – primarily jugs and cups – signed by Ennion was traded throughout the entire Mediterranean world and has been found during archaeological excavations at sites from Israel to Spain.

The exhibition also features works from museums and private collections in Europe and the United States. Six works were also lent by Dr. Shlomo Moussaieff, who had the initial concept for the exhibition.

Education programs will include exhibition tours and a Friday Focus lecture on Feb. 20 by William Gudenrath, an authority on historical hot glassworking techniques.

After the presentation at the Metropolitan Museum, the exhibition will be shown at the Corning Museum of Glass (May 15–Oct. 19).

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