Publication
Title
The use of vitrum obsianum in the Roman Empire: some new insights and future prospects
Author
Abstract
The research on the use of obsidian in the Mediterranean is extensive but concerns almost exclusively volcanic glass from prehistoric and Bronze Age contexts. The consumption of obsidian during the Roman imperial period, however, has only occasionally received attention. Never a comprehensive account on what the Romans made in vitrum obsianum has been set up, nor have the sources exploited by them been examined. This paper provides a concise overview of the current knowledge on obsidian during the Roman imperial period and offers an introductory outline on potential research. The ancient writers inform us about the use of volcanic glass to create exclusive vessels, gemstones, mirrors and sculpture, but also about the creation of black appearing man-made glass initiated as a cheap and easier workable substitute of obsidian. The archaeological data on the other hand propose a more complex story with the occurrence of obsidian chunks in early Roman secondary glass workshops, and the bulky use of obsidian in late Antiquity to produce tesserae for the creation of wall and vault mosaics. Because it is extremely difficult to visually distinguish natural obsidian from man-made glass imitations we present in this paper data collected by means of non-destructive chemico-physical analyses SEM-EDX, portable X-ray fluorescence (p-XRF) and Raman spectroscopy to easily distinguish man-made glass from natural obsidian. In particular the use of portable instruments makes possible in situ analysis of objects in archaeological depots or museum collections to help defining distribution networks to better understand the shifting consumption patterns in Antiquity.
Language
English
Source (journal)
Periodico di mineralogia. - Roma, s.a.
Publication
Roma : 2015
ISSN
0369-8963
Volume/pages
84:3A(2015), p. 465-482
ISI
000365632500007
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (publisher's version - intranet only)
UAntwerpen
Faculty/Department
Research group
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ESRF and DUBBLE: Synchrotron X-rays for revealing the structure and function of molecules and materials.
Publication type
Subject
Affiliation
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Record
Identification
Creation 15.01.2016
Last edited 11.11.2017
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