Original paper

Unravelling the Iron Age glass trade in southern Italy: the first trace-element analyses

Conte, Sonia; Arletti, Rossella; Mermati, Francesca; Gratuze, Bernard

Abstract

The beginning of the 1st millennium BC was one of the key periods in the development of glassmaking technologies, characterized by the supplanting of plant-ash technology by natron-based production, which would be typical of the Roman glass industry. The ESEM-EDS, EMPA, and LA-ICPMS analyses of 72 glass samples from Sarno, Cuma and Capua (Campania, southern Italy), dated to the 9th –6th century BC, revealed a complex picture as regards both the chemical composition of the glass and the trade routes of Early Iron Age Campania. The sample set was composed of classic natron glass, natron black glass (characterised by high levels of FeO ≥10 wt%), natron alumina-cobalt blue glass coloured with Egyptian cobaltiferous alum, and plant-ash glass. The traceelement analysis made it possible to hypothesize the trade routes that linked ancient Campania with the Eastern Mediterranean.

Keywords

iron ageempaglassla-icpmsarchaeometrysouthern italytrace elements