The created stone: chemical and archaeological perspectives on the colour and material properties of early Egyptian glass, 1500-1200 B.C.

Duckworth, Chloë N. (2011) The created stone: chemical and archaeological perspectives on the colour and material properties of early Egyptian glass, 1500-1200 B.C. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The Late Bronze Age in Western Asia and Egypt witnessed an explosion in the production of so-called 'vitreous materials', in particular the earliest glass. From its outset, this material appeared in an enormous variety of colours and colour combinations, the manufacture of which demanded a high degree of technological know-how. The unique properties of glass also rapidly came to the fore, most notably the potential of glass to be worked while hot.

Archaeometric research into early Egyptian glass has tended to focus on chemical and isotopic analysis as a means to assign provenance to its raw ingredients. To this end, the use of a technique new to archaeology, ToF-SIMS, is developed here in order to investigate the origin of the colorant opacifiers used in glass production. But questions about manufacturing technology and stages of production are also vital to an understanding of the role and perception of glass, and the aforementioned technique is complemented by electron microprobe analysis, revealing a surprising complexity of production, primarily related to coloration.

Furthermore, it has been argued that the terms used to refer to glass in epigraphic sources indicate that it was primarily produced in order to imitate, or substitute for, precious stones of value in Late Bronze Age Egypt and Mesopotamia (primarily lapis lazuli, carnelian and turquoise). Recent research into the archaeological and ethnographic understanding of colour naming and classification is applied to these sources along with an investigation of the material properties of glass itself. It is suggested that, far from being an imitation, the artificiality of glass - as a man-made material - was deliberately, sometimes spectacularly, proclaimed. Central to this is the use of colour, in particular in terms of transformation, and the aforementioned complexity of production. It is argued that only through combining the numerous approaches to the evidence taken here - scientific, linguistic-historical, and archaeological - can the perception of glass, and the motivations behind its production, be determined.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Henderson, J.
Weeks, L.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts. Applied arts. Decoration and ornament
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 13935
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2014 13:39
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2016 13:26
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/13935

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