A great portion of the glass in the museum's collection comes from the Michigan excavation at Karanis (1924–1935), where glass vessels were found by the hundreds, many of them intact. This quantity—over twice as much as at any other site in Egypt—suggests a thriving local industry.

Although ancient glass might be considered remarkable for its delicate, translucent beauty, F. W. Kelsey's primary motivation as an archaeologist and collector was to accumulate material meaningful for its place in the everyday lives of ancient people, and so useful for teaching and research in Ann Arbor. He was determined that the Karanis project would reconstruct the "environment of life," which included antiquities other than papyri, such as pots, lamps, and glass vessels.

Much of the rest of the museum's glass comes from University of Michigan excavations in the 1920s and 1930s: at Seleucia-on-the-Tigris in Iraq (1927–1932 and 1936–1937), Sepphoris in Israel (1931), and Soknopaiou Nesos, or Dimé, in Egypt (1931–1932).

The remainder of the collection came to the museum through well-documented personal collections, including a small amount purchased by Kelsey himself: on an early trip to Italy in 1892–1893, and later on his first major Mediterranean expedition in 1919–1920. Kelsey displayed the glass he collected on this trip in a small exhibition—arranged particularly for his donors—in October 1921.

Emma Sachs

  • Lamp

    Conical lamp Green glass with patterned blobs 3rd–4th century AD Karanis, Egypt. UM Excavations 1924–1935. KM 5932

  • Vessel

    Free-blown bell-shaped beaker Green glass 6th–7th century AD Cologne, Germany. F. W. Kelsey purchase 1920. KM 1670

  • Bottle

    Small free-blown bottle Opaque purple glass with green rim coil 2nd–3rd century AD Karanis, Egypt. UM Excavations 1924–1935. KM 6263

  • Plate fragment

    Molded plate fragment Millefiori glass, yellow and green on blue 4th–5th century AD Karanis, Egypt. UM Excavations 1924–1935. KM 5888

  • Furniture ornament

    Fragmentary molded furniture ornament Mosaic glass with floral and figural elements 2nd–3rd century AD Karanis, Egypt. UM Excavations 1924–1935. KM 25714

  • Cup

    Footed cup Glass Roman Period (1st–4th century AD) Karanis, Egypt. UM Excavations 1924–1935. KM 5965