Archeologists have found an exquisit Roman polychrome millefiori dish in East London, UK. The dish is made up of hundreds of glass petals in a beautifully intricate pattern.
The dish is extremely rare and an unprecedented find, not only from London but from across the Western Roman empire. Originally the blue translucent petals, bordered with white, would have been embedded in a bright red opaque glass matrix. The hue was still present when the dish was uncovered, with the vermillion appearance diminishing as the water-saturated glass dried out. The red colouring can be seen around the rim. The complexity of its manufacture indicates that the dish was a highly-prized and valuable item. Beautifully crafted vessels like this were particularly in vogue in the 1st and early 2nd centuries. Dating is underway to establish the precise period of the find.
The dish formed part of the grave goods of a Roman Londoner whose cremated remains were uncovered, probably buried in a wooden container, in a cemetery in Londinium’s Eastern quarter. A number of other ceramic and glass vessels were also ranged along the sides of the casket, suggesting a rich and unusual burial.
The term millefiori means “a thousand flowers”.