Roman glassware at the museum of the Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa.
Have you ever wondered why Roman glassware always looks dirty? It's because it is. An agricultural society like the Romans' maintained a very close relationship to the soil. Today a wine expert can speak authoritatively about the terroir that produced a vintage. The peasantry of the Roman Empire could identify the terroir of pork, egg, mussel or even bread. Their intimate understanding of the soil sprang from the farming practice of tasting the earth to learn its mineral content. The soils of particular estuaries were considered especially healthful. Taverniers bottled earth from these favoured spots with natural spring water and sold it as a refreshing beverage. The dirt you see in Roman glassware is a residue of this soft drink, trademarked Agri-Cola.