Sourcing Roman Glass

Interesting item from Chemistry World … in medias res:

Different antimony ores have slightly different antimony isotope ratios and researchers in Belgium and the UK have developed an inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) method to detect and quantify these tiny differences. By analysing samples of Roman glass, the team hope to uncover clues about how the glass was made and the geographical provenance of the raw materials.

Initial results suggest antimony ores from at least two locations were used to make the Roman glass being analysed. ‘We hope to be able to geographically localise these sources and, thus, reveal information as to the origin of antimony used for thousands of years in the art of making glass,’ says Frank Vanhaecke from Ghent University, who led the research. By performing isotope analysis on a series of elements found in glass the team ultimately want to reveal the origin of various starting materials and reconstruct the entire glass manufacturing process and associated trade routes. [...]

… if you’d like to read a techy abstract of the research: Isotopic analysis of antimony using multi-collector ICP-mass spectrometry for provenance determination of Roman glass, in the  Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry …

I suspect an offshoot of this will be that we learn that a pile of the Roman glass we have is of modern production …

Roman Glass-Making ‘District’ from Pozzuoli

The incipit of a piece from ANSA:

An ancient road on which glass-making workshops of artisans renowned for their skill in the first century A.D. of the Roman Empire has been found near Naples. The road, Clivius Vitrarius, recently surfaced in Pozzuoli during excavations for maintenance work on a modern road. The unexpected discovery occurred when the road sunk after heavy rain. In repairing it, workers came across archaeological finds and called the experts in from the Naples superintendent’s office, who in turn brought to light ancient structures near the area which housed Roman baths, as reported by the newspaper Corriere del Mezzogiorno. The latest excavations have added interesting historical information on Clivius Vitrarious, the road of the glass-making artisans famous throughout the Roman Empire, alongside their artisan counterparts north of modern-day Milan. [...]

… the article goes on to talk about Pompeii and the upcoming ‘restoration’ for some reason …