Fact No. 235. (Published on 9/8/2005)

The Portland Vase

The Portland Vase is arguably the most historically important glass object in the world.

Though its exact origins are uncertain, it is believed to have been discovered in the mid 16th century in a sarcophagus outside Rome.

Considering that it was created some 2,000 years ago and required the formulation of a dark translucent blue glass and a compatible opaque white glass, its existence is amazing.

The vase has passed through the hands of a number of illustrious owners - including cardinals, a Pope, British aristocrats, and the Duke of Portland for whom it is named.

The vase was broken -- in fact smashed into more than 200 pieces -- by a drunken vandal in 1845. It has since been restored (several times actually) and is part of the British Museum collection.

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