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Title: 'To see a world in a grain of sand' : the glass of Nubia in the Meroitic Period and its relationship to glass of the ancient Mediterranean world
Author: Spedding, Juliet
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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Glass has been manufactured since the Bronze Age but ancient Nubian glassware has hitherto been little studied. Despite pioneering work in the field of archaeological science, scholarship has tended to analyse Nubian material culture from an Egyptocentric art historical or textual perspective, focusing on the perceived influence of Egypt over Nubia. This study uses chemical analysis to investigate the processes of glass manufacture in Nubia, studying artefacts from the Lower Nubian sites of Faras and Qasr Ibrim and Upper Nubian sites of Gabati and Meroe dating from the Meroitic Period (c.400BCE-400CE) and X-Group/Ballana Culture (c.400-600CE). This investigation moves beyond simple artefact reclassification by providing a new assessment of Nubian glass production from a materials science view point. The identification of the chemical makeup of glass allows the tracking of similar raw materials used throughout Nubia, Egypt, and around the Mediterranean. Results of this analysis will be compared with published analyses of Mediterranean, Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern material in order to quantify any similarities and/or differences. This reveals possible interrelationships between trade, technological understanding, and manufacturing choices made in Egyptian, Nubian and other cultures. This study has shown the extent to which the same primary production centre was providing non-leaded glass to numerous sites around the Mediterranean and down into Nubia. It has also enabled the identification of different types and groups of glass present there, shown the extent and variation of its glass, and has shown that glass was moving to Nubia from India. Recycling has also been identified and isotope analysis has enabled the discovery that the lead used in these Nubian glass objects came from sources in Turkey. While it has been acknowledged that there are gaps in our geographical and chronological knowledge of ancient glass compositions, in particular the early Iron Age to Hellenistic periods in the Mediterranean, the research undertaken in this study has begun to fill some of these gaps by exploring Nubia’s contribution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral