a Joint team of researchers from Denmark and Germany used a new method of analysis of isotopes of hafnium to study the composition of the so-called “Alexandria” glass, which was widely used in Ancient Rome and was considered perfect. The study first proved that this glass was made in Egypt.
the Study is published in the journal PLoS one, and briefly about it tells Phys.org. It is known that the glass was highly valued in Ancient Rome. The glass industry in this country was at an extremely high level. Glass was used not only household items, and decorations.
the Most valuable, surprisingly, in that period of time was considered to be a colorless glass. The whiter it is, the more expensive cost. In written sources it is referred to as “Alexandrian glass.” For example, exactly as it is named in the decree of the Emperor Diocletian, who ruled in the fourth century.
the Very name denotes his Egyptian origin. However, until now archaeologists could not find any evidence of this. During excavations in Egypt, never found a furnace, which could be made of transparent glass.
At the same time on the territory of modern Palestine such furnace was found. And the previous analysis of artifacts showed that the glass was produced in the Levant. It is a region along the coast of the Mediterranean sea, in the territory of which are now Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
There really is a lot of sand, which is ideal for glass production. It contains such an amount of lime which is necessary for the glass to retain a stable structure. In the Levant produced clear glass by adding manganese. It was a good product, but not perfect. It is inferior in quality to the “Alexandria” glass.
To solve a long-standing mystery, the researchers used a fundamentally new method. They analyzed the artifacts, comparing them with the concentration of the isotopes of hafnium, a rare chemical element.
This finally allowed us to separate the Roman glass into two different types – “Palestinian” and “Alexandrian”. The presence of isotopes of hafnium proved that the latter really were made in Egypt and not the Levant.
“Isotopes of hafnium proved to be an important indicator of the origin of sediments in Geology, so we expected that the isotopic analysis will allow you to identify sand used in glass production, says co-author Charles Loescher of the University of Aarhus. – This expectation was confirmed by the measurements, which indicates the close connection between archaeology and Geology”.
moreover, the researchers were able finally to reveal the secret of an ideal purity “Alexandria” glass. It turned out that the Egyptians in its production added to SOSTav is not manganese, as in the Levant, and antimony. That’s what made the glass crystal clear and therefore most valuable.