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 …

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