Brill, Robert H. “Appendix.” In E. Riefenstahl, “A Unique Fish-Shaped Glass Vial in the Brooklyn Museum.” The Journal of Glass Studies vol. 14 (1972): 10-14.1. Glass fish. Egypt, 18th Dynasty. L. 10.7 cm.The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y. (No. 37.316E, Abbott Collection, Charles E. WilbourFund.) After a water color by Suzanne E. Chapman.FIG.10Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass -

Brill, Robert H. “Appendix.” In E. Riefenstahl, “A Unique Fish-Shaped Glass Vial in the Brooklyn Museum.” The Journal of Glass Studies vol. 14 (1972): 10-14.A UNIQUEFISH-SHAPED GLASS VIALIN THE BROOKLYN MUSEUMELIZABETH RJEFSTAHLAREMARKABLE Egyptian glass vessel ofthe late Dynasty XVIII has been onexhibition in New York City and Brooklyn for more than a century without attractingmore than passing attention. 1 It is a small, yellowish vial of transparent glass in the form ofthe fish Tilapia nilotica, today known in Egyptas bolti, which was in antiquity, as now, one ofthe commonest of Egyptian fishes (Figs. 1-3).Although it has long remained unnoticed in thecompany of more showy (and more usual) blueglass vessels with polychrome decoration, thisvial is of a type apparently unique in the earlyhistory of glassmaking.It is true that other ancient Egyptian fishshaped glass vials are known, among them amagnificent specimen from Amarna in theBritish Museum (No. 55193)2 and one fromSaqqara in the Museum of Antiquities at Cairo1. Acc. No. 37.316E; Abbott Collection, CharlesEdwin Wilbour Fund; 10.7 cm long. Ancient EgyptianGlass and Glazes in The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn,1968, No. 31.2. T. E. Peet and Leonard Woolley, The City ofAkhenaten, J, London, 1923, p. 24, PI. XII (Egypt Exploration Society, 38th Memoir); Poul Fossing, GlassVessels Before Glass-Blowing, Copenhagen, 1940,p. 18, Fig. 10.(No. J.E. 32974). These show the familiardragged decoration of colored threads formingfestoons (here used as a fanciful imitation ofscales) on a blue ground. To them may beadded a fragment of a very large fish in plainblue glass in the British Museum (No. 63786)and a second fragment of an unusually smallbut delicately formed fish with polychromeornament in The Metropolitan Museum of Art(No. 11.215.933).3 The little fish in Brooklyn isdifferent from any of these. Like them, it is acored vessel, with remnants of a pale tan coreadhering to the inside, but, unlike them, it ismade of transparent, all but colorless glass.Colorless glass is rare enough in ancient Egypt-only a few examples from the late DynastyXVIII are known;4 and the Brooklyn fish pre3. J owe these references to the kindness of Mr. JohnD. Cooney, Curator of Ancient Art at the ClevelandMuseum of Art.4. While the term "clear glass" implies a colorlesstransparent glass, ancient attempts rarely achieved aclear glass totally without color due to accidental impurities in the materials used; it was usually tinged withgreen or yellow.A preliminary report on a laboratory examination ofthe fish, by Dr. Robert Brill, Administrator of ScientificResearch at The Corning Museum of Glass, is published in the Appendix, p. 14.11Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass -

Brill, Robert H. “Appendix.” In E. Riefenstahl, “A Unique Fish-Shaped Glass Vial in the Brooklyn Museum.” The Journal of Glass Studies vol. 14 (1972): 10-14.FIG.sents a still rarer phenomenon in that spots andlines of blue glass, forming a pattern on thebody, seem to have been applied directly to thecore before it was covered with clear glasswhich is drawn out to form a dorsal fin, and isfaintly impressed with fanning indentations toform the tail. The eyes of the fish are formed bytwo blue dots, executed in the same manner asthose on the body, but overlaid in their centersby a smaller yellow dot. All of these features arenow partly concealed by a whitish surface disintegration layer. The only additional ornamental feature is an opaque yellow thread outliningthe open mouth of the fish.A few examples of painted decoration withclear glass coating have been listed by Lucas."These, however, are not vessels; they are merely paintings with a thin protective covering ofglass and are completely unrelated to the technique of the fish . The only glass vessel with underglaze decoration I have been able to locateis that mentioned (although not illustrated) by5. Annales du Service des Antiquites de l'Egypte,XXXIX, 1939, p. 234.2Daressy in the Catalogue general of the CairoMuseum.6 He describes this vase, of whicheleven fragments were found in the tomb ofAmenhotep II (1439-1413 B.C.), as an elaborate"mosaic" of glass, including a battle scene andplant motifs, which was held together "aumoyen d'un nwstic bleu" and covered withtransparent glass. Mr. John D. Cooney, who hasexamined the fragments, believes them to havebeen part of a lamp, somewhat analogous to thefamous alabaster lamp from the tomb ofTutankhamun,7 but in this case molded in6. Fouilles de la Vallee des Rois, Cairo, 1902, p. 206,No. 24824.7. Howard Carter, The Tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen, II,London, 1927, p. 30, PIs. XLV and XLVI. Carter describes this lamp as two thin alabaster cups, one withinthe other, with decoration "painted in semi-transparentcolors" on the outer wall of the inner cup. This decoration became visible only when the lamp was lighted.Since pulverized frit, especially blue or green, was frequently used as a pigment (see A. Lucas, AncientEgyptian Materials and Industries, 4th edition, London,1962, pp. 340-344), it seems possible that the technique employed was akin to that of enamelled glass, although, since access to the painting is now manifestlyimpossible, the nature of the pigment must remain uncertain.12Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass -

Brill, Robert H. “Appendix.” In E. Riefenstahl, “A Unique Fish-Shaped Glass Vial in the Brooklyn Museum.” The Journal of Glass Studies vol. 14 (1972): 10-14.FIG.translucent sea-green glass with painted decoration, probably in frit, added on the insideand fixed by a light firing. In other words, thefragments represent a forerunner of enamelledglass and a technique that bears no relationshipto that of the Brooklyn fish.The latter was originally in the collection ofDr. Henry Abbott, which was formed in Cairoduring the first half of the nineteenth centuryand was purchased by the New-York HistoricalSociety in 1860. It appears as No. 88 on page 7of a catalogue of the Abbott Collection compiled in 1843 by Joseph Bonomi and publishedin Cairo in 1846. 8 In this catalogue its provenance is said to have been Saqqara. The fishcame to Brooklyn on loan in 1937 as part of theEgyptian Collection of the New-York HistoricalSociety, and was purchased by The BrooklynMuseum, together with the remainder of thatcollection, in 1948. Such is the entire history ofthe fish, so far as it is known. The provenance8. Catalogue of a Collection of Egyptian Antiquities,the Property of Henry Abbott (Cairo, 1846, signed onp. 35 by Joseph Bonomi and there dated "Cairo, 1843").3given by Dr. Abbott is, however, entirely plausible, and there can be little doubt that the vialstems from the New Kingdom. It is comparablein form not only with fish-shaped glass vesselsknown to be of XVIIIth-Dynasty date, whichare mentioned above, but also with vials andmodel fish of that period in materials other thanglass.While I have referred to the open-mouthedfish-vessels as "vials," it is difficult to imaginethat they could have served a practical use ascontainers, even if provided with stoppers. Perhaps their function was purely magical. Representations of fish occur in Egyptian art from thePredynastic Period to the end of pharaonichistory, and among them the bolti is especiallyfrequent. In the New Kingdom it often appearsas an amulet. The vials and model fish in glass,faience, stone, wood, and metal, so often foundin tombs of that period, also may well have hadan amuletic function.Tilapia nilotica has very curious breedinghabits. The female takes her eggs, after fertilization, into her mouth and guards them in herbody until they are hatched, whereupon she13Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass -

Brill, Robert H. “Appendix.” In E. Riefenstahl, “A Unique Fish-Shaped Glass Vial in the Brooklyn Museum.” The Journal of Glass Studies vol. 14 (1972): 10-14.spews them forth as tiny, full-formed fishes.Recent research indicates that the Egyptians,here as so often keen observers of nature, wereaware of this phenomenon and regarded thebolti-fish as a potent symbol of ever renewinglife. 9 A charming bolti in painted pottery of theAmarna type in the Brooklyn collection, 10 whichhas been found to contain egg-shaped claypellets, lends support to the magico-religiousfunction of this and other representations of thefish. Amarna has also yielded a model or a verylarge amulet (17 em long) of a bolti wrought ingold. l lThere is no evidence that Tilapia niloticaever became an object of special veneration.It was not, like the Mormyrus oxyrhynchus inthe Late Period, a "sacred" fish with a fiercelydefended, if rather localized, cult of its own.The owner of the little vial here described maywell have believed, however, that it mightmagically ensure him a renewal of life in theworld beyond the tomb. He may also havetaken it with him into eternity for the sake of itscharm and rarity, for in his day few could affordthe new luxury of fine glass, hardly to be distinguished from jewels in its brilliance.9. In a recent article on a fish-shaped glass vessel ofthe Ptolemaic to Roman Period in the Musee du Louvre,Mme. Christiane Desroches Noblecourt suggests thatsuch vials may have been used to conserve holy waterfrom the river Nile: "Une fiole evoquant Ie poisson'lates' de la deesse Neith," Melanges ofJerts a K. Michalowski, Warsaw, 1966, pp. 71-81. See also, by the sameauthor, "Une lac de turquoise. Codets it onguents destinees d'outre tombe . ," Monuments Piot, 47, 1953,pp. 1-34, and "Poissons, tabous et transformations dumort," Kemi, 13, 1954, pp. 33-42; and, finally, see alsoMartin Damback and Ingrid Wallert, "Das TilapiaMotiv in der altagyptischen Kunst," Chroniqued'Egypte, XLI, 1966, pp. 273-294.10. Acc. No. 48.111, 11 cm long. See John D.Cooney, "A Magical Egyptian Fish," The Brooklyn Museum Bulletin, XI, No.1, Fall 1949, pp. 1-4.11. J. D. S. Pendlebury, The City of Akhenaten, III,London, 1951, p. 65, PI. LXXIII, 5-6 (Egypt Exploration Society, 44th Memoir).APPENDIXROBERTH.BRILLWe have completed a laboratory study of theBrooklyn fish. The study consisted of a microscopicexamination, various chemical analyses and a leadisotope determination. A full account of our studywill appear in a future publication, but a few important findings are summarized here.From microscopic examination it is clear that thisobject was formed around a core, but the residue ofcore material seems to differ slightly from that remaining on most other XVIIIth-Dynasty coreformed glasses we have examined. The glass surface is moderately weathered with a crizzled-likeappearance we have come to associate with weathering occurring in relatively dry climates. The bluespots are definitely located on the inner surface ofthe glass at the interface with the core residue.They are fused to, and extend into, the colorlessglass. The spots must have been applied to the corebefore the colorless glass was applied.The chemical composition of the glass is consistent with analyses of XVIIIth-Dynasty glasses, ifone allows for the fact that this glass is colorless. Itshould be noted, however, that this chemical composition is not necessarily unique either to Egyptianglasses or to glasses of that period. An analysis ofthe yellow glass comprising the applied lips of thefish established that this glass is definitely coloredwith the pigment Pb 2 Sb 2 0 7 An isotope determination was carried out on leadextracted chemically from the pigment in a tinyspeck of the yellow glass. The lead was found to beof a recognizable isotopic type which we have sofar seen only among two types of ancient specimens. These are specimens of kohls removed fromEgyptian alabaster kohl pots dating between theVIth and XIXth Dynasties, and the Pb 2 Sb 2 0 7 pigment in yellow glass threadings decorating fragments of four XVIIIth-Dynasty cored vessels. Thelead in the pigment from the Brooklyn fish is a veryclose match to that in the four glasses. The fewspecimens we have studied of Egyptian glassesfrom later periods contain a different type of lead.Thus, within the framework of our present knowledge, this can be taken as convincing evidence ofan XVIIIth-Dynasty origin for the fish, evidencewhich might offset any doubts to the contrary arising from the fact that colorless glass is so rareamong objects from that period.14Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass -

the fish Tilapia nilotica, today known in Egypt as bolti, which was in antiquity, as now, one of the commonest of Egyptian fishes (Figs. 1-3). Although it has long remained unnoticed in the company of more showy (and more usual) blue glass vessels with polychrome decoration, this vial is of a type apparently unique in the early