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Hellenistic glassmaking proves its rank

Researchers have examined key issues related to archaeology and the ancient economy. Their focus was on the production and trade of Greek glass of the Hellenistic period.
Hellenistic glassmaking proves its rank
Ancient glassmaking has received increasing interest over the past several years. Archaeologic investigations as well as archaeometric studies have shown evidence of this, particularly for applying scientific procedures to archaeological issues. These investigations have aimed at locating ancient glassmaking sites, focusing mainly on Egyptian and Near Eastern locations. These sites date back to the first important phase of the glass industry from the 16th-11th century BC and from late antiquity, which spanned the 1st-9th century AD. However, little has been done on the period between the 7th and 1st century BC.

The EU-funded project GLASSTECH2013 (Continuity and change in the emergence of the Hellenistic glass industry in Greece) covered this gap. The research objectives included transformation of the knowledge base of ancient Greek glass. This was in order to enhance socioeconomic and technological interpretations. The team set out to apply a combination of techniques and identified locations where primary production of the glass took place. Comprehensive training was provided in sample selection and chemical techniques.

Researchers analysed 480 samples dating back to the late, middle and early Hellenistic period. Most of the samples were from Greece and the rest were from Beirut, Cyprus, Italy and Turkey. A typical ancient glass composition was common in samples.

GLASSTECH2013 identified interregional differences between major, minor and trace element composition of the samples. This indicates the possibly of different glassmaking traditions and thus different centres of production. Samples from Greece show characteristics of Egyptian origin. This proves the connection and trade exchanges between Egypt and Greece during the Ptolemaic period.

New and fascinating links were established between researchers. The extensive study of the material allows Greek Hellenistic glassmaking to take the same rank as prehistoric and late antiquity glassmaking.

Related information


Hellenistic glassmaking, archaeology, GLASSTECH2013, ancient Greek glass, Ptolemaic period
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