Glass and Glass technology: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Archaeological Research

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Glass is not as ubiquitous as other archaeological materials, such as ceramic, but when present it provides important clues about the community that left it behind as it participated in many different aspects of its life. Indeed, this material was used to manufacture prestige objects, architectural elements, personal ornaments or utilitarian items. The study of ancient glass participates in the general understanding of ancient societies, their structure, interaction and evolution. Inferences are made by studying the composition of glass assemblages, the typology of objects, the recipes and manufacturing techniques. This session aims at presenting exemplary case studies that involve many of the interdisciplinary approaches recently developed to study ancient glasses, glass technologies and the people that used them. These approaches combine and integrate archaeology with anthropology, art history, chemistry, materials science and other fields. The goal is to stimulate discussion about the unique contribution of ancient glass studies to the understanding of our past, and demonstrate how glass studies have matured in recent years to provide conclusions with broad interpretation.

Other Keywords
GlassTechnologyBeadsXRFMuseum StudiesMethodsEthnoarchaeologyBraceletsAfricaEgypt

Geographic Keywords
AFRICAEuropeWest AsiaSouth Asia

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-10 of 10)

  • Documents (10)

  • Ancient Glass Studies from 1st-2nd Millennium AD Africa: What Have We learned and Where Are We Going (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas Fenn.

    The study of ancient glass in Africa has undergone a resurgence in the past 10+ years, particularly with regards to the integration of new and varied analytical approaches. Glass from Roman, Byzantine and Islamic Era contexts are increasingly undergoing scrutiny to explore modes of manufacture, access to raw materials, provenance of raw materials and finished glass goods, and the role that glass production and consumption played in those societies, to name a few. Advances in instrumental...

  • Beads, Bangles, and Glass: Historical and Ethnographic Insights into Glass Working in South India (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Shinu Abraham. Praveena Gullapalli. K.P. Rao.

    The contemporary glass bead making village of Papanaidupet in southern Andhra Pradesh has long served as the ethnographic model for understanding ancient South Indian glass working. Recent surveys, conducted as part of the project Production Landscapes of Southern Andhra Pradesh (PLoSAP), have yielded new data about contemporary and recent glass working in this region of south India. These data include a modern glass bangle making community with production links to Papanaidupet as well as an...

  • Curating Ancient Glass in the 21st Century Museum: The Case of the Yale University Art Gallery (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sara Cole.

    The Yale University Art Gallery’s ancient glass collection has never been the subject of a dedicated exhibition, despite being one of the most extensive of its kind in the United States. As a YUAG Graduate Curatorial Intern (2012-2014), I curated a future exhibition of this collection. Numerous pieces will be available for public view for the first time, drawing together examples covering a timespan of over 2,000 years and a geographical range from the Levant to the western Roman provinces. The...

  • Glass at the Crossroads: Production and Emulation at Phrygian Gordion (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Janet Jones.

    Glass vessels recovered from over sixty years of archaeological investigation at Gordion (central Turkey), the capital of ancient Phrygia, range in date from the eighth century BCE through the Roman period and represent nearly all techniques of glassworking. Several groups of luxury glass from Gordion illuminate key moments in the transmission of cultural influence and of glassmaking technology, production, and utilization from the Near East into the Mediterranean basin in the first millennium...

  • Glass Bracelets from the Medieval Settlement of Hisn al-Tinat, in southern Turkey (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carolyn Swan.

    Hisn al-Tinat is a small, fortified port settlement in what is now southern Turkey. The site was occupied over the course of the 8th-12th centuries CE, during which time the region served as a border zone between Byzantium to the north and the Islamic caliphates to the south. Recent study has suggested that this frontier (al-thugūr) was not a militarized "no man’s land," but rather a multi-cultural, populated area that was part of an interconnected economic trade network. An examination of the...

  • Got Swag? Investigating Beads and Bead Trade in Scotland during the First Millennium AD (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Heather Christie.

    The most prevalent theory concerning intercultural interaction demands a dominant-subordinate relationship in which the subordinate group passively accepts the culture imposed on them by the dominant population. This argument is often applied to Scotland in the first millennium AD, where the transferred cultures are the Irish, Anglo-Saxons, Romans, Norse, and others from continental Europe. Studies of beads in Scotland are particularly affected by these theories: very few beads are seen as...

  • Hyperspectral X-Ray Fluorescence of the Luni glasses (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Monica Ganio. Nicholas Barbi. Marc Walton.

    To investigate raw materials provenance, date and models of production of archaeological glass it is essential to characterize and define compositional groups based on the elemental composition. However, obtaining such information traditionally requires performing micro-destructive analysis on micro-samples. Here, the use of hyperspectral X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) is investigated as alternative tool for the examination of Roman natron glass. The full multichannel analyzer (MCA) data of the...

  • Raise a Glass: The Late Hellenistic Origins of Domestic Glass Tableware (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Katherine Larson.

    For over three millennia after its discovery in the early Bronze Age, glass in the Near East was used almost exclusively in palatial, religious, and funerary contexts, ascribed with high status reflecting the intrinsic or perceived value of the material. But during the last few centuries BCE this pattern changed, as glass cups and bowls began to appear in domestic and other urban areas in greater quantities. This transition occurs before the discovery and diffusion of glass blowing in the first...

  • Raw Materials, Reuse, and Refuse: A multi-disciplinary study of Karanis glass (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Angela Susak Pitzer.

    This multi-disciplinary study comprising archaeological, scientific, and morphological analyses as well as ethnoarchaeology and textual analysis, interrogates how value was assessed in the ancient world by examining Roman glass from Karanis, Egypt. Onsite portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) analysis of recently excavated glass was conducted since the Egyptian government prohibits the export of artifacts for further analysis. This research, combined with pXRF and electron microprobe...

  • Some Suggestions for Archaeologists who have Glass at their Site. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alysia Fischer.

    What are some of the potential pitfalls archaeologists can avoid when dealing with glass on their sites? First and foremost, archaeologists need to recognize the importance of glass as an artifact class and what it can do for them if examined and interpreted competently. This presentation will focus on glass from Old World sites, especially the Mediterranean region, but many of the concerns are universal in nature and can be applied to any site with glass. Drawing upon the experience of many...