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Blue Splashware Cup. Unknown, Roman, A.D. 1–100. Free-Blown Glass, 4 13/16 in. high x 5 11/16 in. diam. 2003.290. The J. Paul Getty Trust © J. Paul Getty Trust.

In the environs of Jerusalem, in about 50 B.C., glassmakers discovered they could inflate glass into a bubble at the end of a tube. This new glassblowing technique allowed glassmakers to produce vessels so quickly and cheaply that glass containers began to replace clay ones for household use.

Blown-glass vessels were decorated using a variety of techniques—pinching, pressing, pulling, painting, applying trails (threads of glass), and rolling in colored glass chips before reinflating (to create splashware). Glass with cut decoration was made to imitate hard-to-cut rock crystal and is often colorless. Painted glass is very rare, and the pigment has often worn away.

This splashware cup was a luxury item that was probably used in a wealthy home. It was decorated by rolling hot blue glass into glass chips of other colors.