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Publication Detail
Roman Glass
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Freestone I
  • Publisher:
    Wiley Professional, Reference & Trade
  • Publication date:
  • Chapter number:
  • Editors:
    Richet P
  • ISBN-13:
  • Status:
    Published online
  • Book title:
    Encyclopedia of glass science, technology, history and culture
  • Keywords:
    Roman Glass, Byzantine glass, Roman technology, Archaeometry
Roman glass technology was based on soda‐lime‐silica glass made by fusing a two‐component mixture of naturally occurring sodium carbonate from Egypt with quartz‐rich sand, which contained calcium in the form of beach shell or limestone. The primary glass material was fused in tank furnaces with capacities in excess of several tonnes in the eastern Mediterranean, broken up into chunks, and exported across the Empire to be fabricated into vessels, sheets, and beads in many secondary workshops. Colorant technology involved the use of opacifiers based upon antimony and later upon tin, whereas pinks and reds based upon gold nanoparticles appeared in the fourth century CE. Recycling was common practice and becomes increasingly apparent from the sixth century. There is a gradual decline in the soda content of glass throughout the millennium, and the use of Egyptian natron as a flux, diagnostic of the Roman tradition, appears to have ceased in the ninth century.
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