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‘Alexandrian’ glass confirmed by hafnium isotopes

Barfod, GH; Freestone, IC; Lesher, CE; Lichtenberger, A; Raja, R; (2020) ‘Alexandrian’ glass confirmed by hafnium isotopes. Scientific Reports , 10 (1) , Article 11322. 10.1038/s41598-020-68089-w. Green open access

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Abstract

Archaeological glass contains information about the movement of goods and ancient economies, yet our understanding of critical aspects of the ancient glass industry is fragmentary. During Roman times, distinct glass types produced in coastal regions of Egypt and the Levant used evaporitic soda (natron) mixed with Nile-derived sands. In the Levant, furnaces for producing colourless Roman glass by addition of manganese have been uncovered, whereas the source of the desirable antimony-decolourised Roman glass remains an enigma. In the Edict of Diocletian, this colourless glass is listed as “Alexandrian” referring to Egypt, but its origin has been ambiguous. Previous studies have found overlapping strontium and neodymium isotope ratios for Levantine and Egyptian glass. Here, we confirm these findings and show for the first time, based on glasses from the ancient city of Gerasa, that hafnium (Hf) isotopes are different in Egyptian and Levantine natron glasses, and that Sb Roman glass is Egyptian. Our work illustrates the value of Hf isotopes in provenancing archaeological glass. We attribute the striking difference in Hf isotopes of Egyptian versus Levantine glasses to sorting of zircons in Nile sediments during longshore drift and aeolian transport along the south-eastern Mediterranean coast leaving behind a less juvenile fraction.

Type: Article
Title: ‘Alexandrian’ glass confirmed by hafnium isotopes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-68089-w
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-68089-w
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Geochemistry, Sedimentology, Tectonics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10104832
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