Rare Roman glass bowl found 1,700 years after it's buried next to merchant in London


Blackleaf
#1
A beautiful dish belonging to a wealthy Londoner at the time that Britain was a part of the Roman Empire has been unearthed.

The bowl is a rare "millefiori" ("one thousand flowers") and is thought to be the first of its kind to be discovered outside the eastern Roman Empire.

The dish was found during excavations in Prescot Street, Aldgate, which is on the eastern side of the City of London (it used to be one of several gates inside the wall which used to encircle the City of London), the one square mile area in the centre of London. At the time, though, this area would have been in east London itself. The area is not far from Whitechapel, where Jack the Ripper went on his murderous spree in 1888.

The dish is made up of hundreds of translucent blue indented glass petals, bordered with white embedded in a bright red glass background.

The dish was found in the grave of the Roman East Londoner whose cremated remains were uncovered, probably buried in a wooden container, in a cemetery in Londinium's eastern quarter.

A number of other ceramic and glass vessels were also found in the grave.

London was founded by the Romans in 43AD (which means the old girl celebrates her 2000th birthday in 2043) but, contrary to popular belief, the present name of the city may not derive from the Roman name for it, Londinium.

It may be named after King Lud, who was a king of Britain before the Romans arrived.

He was the eldest son of King Heli, and succeeded his father to the throne. He was succeeded, in turn, by his brother Cassibelanus.

Cassibelanus led the British defence against Julius Caesar's second expedition to Britain in 54 BC.


Rare Roman glass bowl found 1,700 years after it's buried next to merchant in East London


By Daily Mail Reporter
29th April 2009
Daily Mail


This beautiful translucent dish belonged to a wealthy East Londoner living in Roman Britain 1,700 years ago.

The rare 'millefiori' bowl - meaning 'one thousand flowers' was unearthed by archaeologists in London and is thought to be the first find of its kind in the western Roman empire. Researchers believe it will give fresh insight into life in Roman Britain.

The dish is made up of hundreds of translucent blue indented glass petals, bordered with white embedded in a bright red glass background.

Enlarge
A complete Roman millefiori dish found at an excavation site on Prescot Street, Aldgate


Millefiori is a glass working technique using glass rods with multi-coloured patterns that are only visible at the cut ends - like a stick of rock.

The delicate artefact has been painstakingly pieced together from the many fragments found during excavations in Prescot Street, Aldgate, in East London.

Glass experts say it is the first time such a complete dish has been found outside of the eastern Roman empire - where finds like this have been made in Egypt and surrounding areas.


Archaeology conservator at the Museum of London, Liz Goodman, holds the dish

It will go on display at the Museum of London in Docklands.

The dish was found in the grave of the Roman East Londoner whose cremated remains were uncovered, probably buried in a wooden container, in a cemetery in Londinium's eastern quarter.

A number of other ceramic and glass vessels were also ranged along the sides of the casket, suggesting a rich and unusual burial.



The dish was found on Prescot Street in east London (click picture to enlarge)

Liz Goodman, Museum of London archaeology conservator, said: 'Piecing together and conserving such a complete artefact offered a rare and thrilling challenge.

'We occasionally get tiny fragments of millefiori, but the opportunity to work on a whole artefact of this nature is extraordinary.

'The dish is extremely fragile but the glasswork is intact and illuminates beautifully nearly two millennia after being crafted.'


Enlarge


The dish is made up of hundreds of translucent blue indented glass petals, bordered with white embedded in a bright red glass background. The pieces were found with other ancient artifacts (below)

Guy Hunt, director of the firm L-P:Archaeology, said: 'The dig at Prescot Street produced an amazing range of Roman cemetery archaeology.

'It is fantastic for us that one of the many finds is such an exciting and beautiful object. It is great to be able to put an object such as this into context and to get a first-hand impression of a rather wealthy East Londoner.'

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Last edited by Blackleaf; Apr 29th, 2009 at 11:40 AM..
 
Josephia
#2
You don't have to go as far away as the Middle East to find Roman millefiori glass samples.
The excellent Roman Glass Museum in Koln (Cologne) Germany has hundreds of pieces of glass
including millefiori which they are studying in great depth. i.e. "Chemical composition and
colouring agents of Roman mosaic and millefiori glass, studied by electron microprobe
analysis and Raman microspectroscopy", by V. Gedzevičiūtė, N. Welter, U. Schüssler and C.
Weiss.
Koln was the site of a Roman glass factory. Mosaic glass, alternatively described as
millefiori glass, represents a coloured artistic glass used for the creation of exceptional
vessels.
The above mentioned paper discusses twelve representative glass pieces studied by electron
microprobe analysis. Eleven of them display pronounced levels of low K, Mg and P contents,
typical for the Roman period. The colouring agents are Mn3+ for violet, Cu2+ for light blue,
Co2+ for deep blue and Fe3+ for brown translucent colours. Calcium antimonates,lead
antimonate and cuprite are the colourants responsible for white, yellow and red colours,
respectively, and additionally serve as opacifiers. The last sample proved to be from the Middle Ages and was not used.
The Martin von Wagner Museum in Würzburg holds about 260 fragments of ancient
mosaic glass of Roman origin. During the imperial period from the middle of the first
century BC on, the older patterns are supplemented by a remarkable increase of translucent
and opaque colours and by a wider variety of vessel forms and more complicated, rosette- and
flowerlike (millefiori), stonelike and geometrical patterns.

The results of the micron study showed: All the differently coloured parts of 11 of the
investigated fragments show the typical Roman glass recipe, this indicates that Roman glassmakers used a standard glass recipe, which was modified by theaddition of various colourants, and opacifying agents to produce certain special effects.
This study was extensive. In addition to the glass from the Martin von Wagner Museum Würzburg they also considered and compared the five Roman cameo-glass vases from the British Museum London (Bimson and Freestone 198. Another 36 Roman glass samples from Italy, Switzerland and Yugoslavia, first–third century AD (Braun 1983). In addition to 59 Roman glass samples from Poitier, second–third century AD (Velde and Gendron 1980), 48 Roman glass samples from Rouen, first–fourth century AD (Velde and Sennequier 1985), 78 Roman glasses from Cologne, first–fourth century AD (Rottländer 1990) and 43 Roman glasses from Cosa near Rome, second century BC–third century AD (Brill 1999), 20 Roman glass samples from Aquileia, first–fifth century AD (Verità and Toninato 1990).

So maybe look closer to home and try the glass works in Koln before jumping to the Middleast.

Ray Winfield Smith in his paper, The Signifcance of Roman Glass, notes the difficulties of working mosaic glass. Each colored layer of glass had its own composition, and therefore its own viscosity at any given temperature. Thus, even if the cane were brought to the same temperature throughout its mass before it was drawn, astonishing command of the material was necessary to prevent distortions in the design caused by uneven flow of the material during reduction.
Pliny recounts that Pompey's introduction to Rome of the fabulous bowls from Alexandria, Egypt created a sensation and initiated an avid demand and imitation of the spectacular novelty. The most extensive ancient source on classical glass is Pliny's Natural History: book xxxvi contains a detailed discussion of glass. Of the modern authors, Kisa's monumental work, Das Glas im Altertume, presents discussion of the fused mosaic glass, (ii, p.55i), and also see Fremersdorf's Roemische Glaeser aus Koeln (1928; p.7) for the glass specialties of Roman Cologne.