Without doubt the supremacy of Rome in political, military and economic circles in the Mediterranean world was an important factor in attracting experienced artisans to open their shops in the city, but equally important was the fact that the beginning of Roman industry coincided approximately with the invention of the technique of glass blowing. This discovery revolutionized the ancient production of glass, making it equal to other principal industries such as ceramics and metal utensil workmanship. Besides, glassblowing allowed the artisans to create a greater variety of forms and figures. The advantages of glass - it is not porous, it is translucent (if not even transparent) and it is unscented, united to the inclination of the Romans to the change of tastes and habits, drinking cups made from glass for example, in a brief time became more popular than the equivalent in earthenware.
Glass was present in almost every function of Roman daily life: from early-morning ladies hygiene, to afternoon business relationships with dealers, to evening suppers, to banquets and pompous lunches for great occasions. Small bottles of glass and containers contained oils, perfumes and cosmetics used by almost every member of the Roman society. Traders have packed, and sold all sorts of commodities throughout the Mediterranean in glass bottles and vases of all shapes and sizes, thereby supplying Rome with a great variety of exotic products coming from all the parts of the empire, including the most distant and remote.
The utensils of an artisan glassworker shop were: a furnace for the fusion of the glass, flinty sands of various colours, dyes to form the objects, utensils for cutting and welding torches for etching. The objects produced were fragrance bottles, cosmetic vases, containers for liquid, bowls and pots.
The glass bottles made by hand for medicines have been used for almost 2.000 years. The first examples were those used by the "unguentaria", at times called "tear-shaped bottles", used by the Romans for fragrant oils, medicines, perfumes and for cooking.
The Romans were enthusiastic consumers of perfumed oils. The medical texts of Plinius, among others, frequently refer to prescriptions that contained imported spices, such as incense and myrrh as well as local ones such as saffron. They were good news for the artisan glass makers: they often built their factories in the same districts as the perfumers and there was a constant application of their products during the time of the Roman empire.