Department of Archaeology

Mosaic glassy tesserae from Italian sites: the study of provenance and technology

British coordinator: Dr Kalliopi Nikita (University of Nottingham)
Italian coordinator: Dr Paolo Veronesi (University of Modena)
Nottingham members: Prof. Julian Henderson, Dr Kalliopi Nikita, Chloe Duckworth
Italy partners: Prof. Cristina Leonelli, Dr Veronesi, Dr Barbara dal Bianco, Cristina Boschetti

The project focuses on the exchange of experiences in the field of the archaeometric characterisation and experimental reproduction of vitreous materials (glass, faience and Egyptian blue) mosaic tesserae. The materials selected cover the chronological period from the 2nd century BC, the date of the earliest use of glass in Italian mosaics, to the 11th century AD, when large amounts of glass tesserae were used in monumental contexts, such as the Byzantine cathedrals. The specimens selected for the research come from Italian sites, such as Pompeii, Roma, Brescia, Cremona, Aquileia, Ravenna, Torcello and Venice.

These mosaic tesserae have already been the object of previous studies carried out separately by the Italian and British partners during their archaeometric research activity. This exchange will give to both partners the possibility of integrating the results from the chemical and microstructure characterisation (SEM-EDS, ICP-AES, XRD, XPS) with further techniques (Mass Spectrometry, SIMS, TIMS and further ICP-AES) aimed at investigating the materials provenance by the trace elements and the radiogenic and stable isotope analysis of meaningful elements (oxygen, strontium, lead, neodymium, copper).

The glass covering a span of 1000 years will permit the investigation of technological variations in tesserae of different ages and location, such as the use of different raw materials (alkalis and silica sources, natron or plant ashes, siliceous sand or quartzite pebbles). The characterisation data will help in formulating hypotheses about glass provenance and modes of glass production.



Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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