Ennion vase: “Ennion made it,” the signature of the first-century C.E. glassmaker from the Phoenician city of Sidon, is impressed, in Greek, on a glass amphora (held by Shlomo Moussaieff). The amphora is similar to three other pieces by Ennion, except that those pieces lack handles.
Around the turn of the era, Phoenician artisans led a revolution in glassmaking that allowed them to surpass their rivals—the master glassmakers of Alexandria—in skill. While the Alexandrians kept to old techniques of cutting and molding glass, the Phoenicians began to refine the art of glassblowing; their earliest pieces were made by blowing glass into molds impressed with decorations and, sometimes, the artists’ names. Vessels stamped with the names of Sidonian glassmakers of the first decades of the first century C.E. have turned up throughout the Roman world.
Of these glassmakers, Ennion was the most famous. A vessel with his name was found in the excavations of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Another, now on display in the Metropolitan Museum, in New York, may have been used at one of the three Jewish pilgrimage festivals celebrated at the Jerusalem Temple; each of this piece’s six sides shows an object associated with the Temple, such as a golden flagon containing oil for the Temple menorah. Many of the Phoenician glass vessels found in the outposts of the Roman world may have been brought back by Jewish diaspora residents after pilgrimages to Jerusalem.