Artwork of the Week: November 22

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Ancient Roman, Palestinian, around Jerusalem, Hexagonal Jug with Jewish Symbols, mold-blown and tooled glass with applied handle, about 578–629. 5 1/16 x 2 11/16 in. Glass Pavilion, Gallery 5

Ancient Roman, Palestinian, around Jerusalem, Hexagonal Jug with Jewish Symbols, mold-blown and tooled glass with applied handle, about 578–629. 5 1/16 x 2 11/16 in. Glass Pavilion, Gallery 5

This vessel and similar examples came from a workshop that was located near Jerusalem, where the products were sold to pilgrims traveling from all parts of the Mediterranean world, including Egypt. It may have held oil, water, or soil from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The symbols on the six sides of this type of pilgrim vessel vary from jug to jug, but this one includes a menorah (seven-branched candelabrum), stylized palm leaves possibly symbolizing the tree of life, and a Torah ark resting on columns—all important symbols in Jewish religious practice. Each of these images was formed by blowing glass into a mold. The bottom and neck were formed separately, and the handle added afterwards.


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