The Displacement of Cast Wares

Common free-blown cups
1st century A.D.

The cast, angular-rimmed cups which had been so popular during the Augustan era all but vanished just a few decades later, supplanted by free-blown equivalents with tubular, folded or solid rims just like those being used everywhere else among free-blown bottles and jars. Free-blowing would not have been compatible with the composite cane technology that was required for making mosaic wares. So the new tablewares lacked the colorful aspect of their cast predecessors. Some of the stronger monochrome colors of cast wares—particularly dark blue and dark green—were retained, though, among their free-blown counterparts.

The base of each of these cups bear the feature that is most diagnostic free-blowing—a pontil scar that is the remnants of the added glass globule which joined the vessel to a pontil rod, while the glassworker heated and shaped the rim.