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Herding cats - Roman to Late Antique glass groups from Bubastis, northern Egypt

Rosenow, D; Rehren, T; (2014) Herding cats - Roman to Late Antique glass groups from Bubastis, northern Egypt. Journal of Archaeological Science , 49 (1) 170 - 184. 10.1016/j.jas.2014.04.025. Green open access

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Abstract

Eighty-seven glass fragments from Roman and Late Antique layers at Tell Basta/Bubastis in the Eastern Nile Delta were typologically evaluated and chemically analysed to determine chronological and compositional patterns of glass use at this important Egyptian city, and how this relates to larger pattern of glass production and consumption in the first half of the first millennium AD. Bubastis is situated in geographical proximity to Alexandria, an important seaport, and at the same time close to the raw glass production areas in the Wadi Natrun and Sinai peninsula. This paper reports the first substantial set of compositional data of Roman to Late Antique glass from a settlement in northern Egypt, filling an important gap in our knowledge of glass consumption pattern in the first half of the first millennium AD. The glass from Bubastis falls into several compositional groups known already from elsewhere in the Roman and Late Antique world, including antimony- and manganese-decoloured glass and two varieties of HIMT glass. Changes in glass composition over more than 500 years are in line with earlier observations concerning changes in prevalence of these glass groups. However, compositional groups known to dominate archaeological glass assemblages elsewhere, such as Roman blue/green during the earlier part of the period under study, or Levantine I in the later period, are notably absent. For the later period, this is probably due to the proximity of Tell Basta to the suspected production region of HIMT glass in northern Sinai/Egypt. By analogy, this might indicate that the earlier Roman blue/green glass has a production origin further away from the Delta than the decolourised glasses prevailing in Bubastis. A particular vessel type, small-volume thick-walled dark green unguentaria, is made of probably Egyptian plant ash glass, indicating the existence of a specialised glassmaker during the early first millennium AD. © 2014 The Authors.

Type: Article
Title: Herding cats - Roman to Late Antique glass groups from Bubastis, northern Egypt
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.04.025
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.04.025
Additional information: �© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Keywords: Glass; Chemical composition; Roman; Late Antique; Egypt;
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1433011
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