Disintegration

Badly damaged twin-tubed cosmetic flask
4th century A.D.
Ht., 28.4 cm

While the first stages of the weathering process may be found attractive, the later stages are thoroughly destructive. Disfiguring pits begin to form after years of contact with acidic ground water which penetrates the micro-fractures and air bubbles in the glass. These pits eventually carry right through the body of the vessel, making it vulnerable to disintegration.

It is this disintegration and subsequent dissolution of the glass in the ground that has resulted in only a minute fraction of the billions of vessels produced by the Roman glassworking industry over the centuries surviving until today.