Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dark Age Glass Manufactory (?) at Glastonbury

The science and art of glassmaking is ancient.  I'm sure no expert!  As I know of it, there were two main types of glassmaking.  The oldest was the coiled form of glass that was developed in the Middle East about 3500 BCE - maybe in Mesopotamia(?).  There was a major breakthrough in the entire type of glass that glass-blowing allowed to be created when the technique was invented, around 50 BCE. 

I am not certain of this, but perhaps the art of glass-making was transmitted, or discovered, and lost, in various places over various times, only to be discovered over and over again.

In any event, I think these production artifacts that have been redated using current techniques (originally excavated in the 1950's at Glastonbury) are fascinating!  And this article perfectly ties into my comments in the previous post -- about how with the current changes in tecnology (that, for instance, allow us to date certain types of objects much more accurately than even 5 years ago, let alone 50 years ago!) allow us to put together a more accurate and ever-changing picture of our development, both as "humans" and as cultures.  More changes are on the horizon!!!

From BBC News

Glastonbury Abbey excavations find Saxon glass industry

New research on glass fragments found at Glastonbury Abbey in the 1950s reveals the earliest archaeological evidence of glass-making in Britain.
Researchers from the University of Reading carried out radiocarbon dating on finds from the digs.
Clay crucibles and pieces of vivid blue-green window glass were tested. The results show the pieces date from the 680s and are likely to be associated with a major rebuilding of the abbey by King Ine of Wessex.
The research team believes specialist glass workers came from France to work at Glastonbury.  Analysis of the glass is now being carried out to find out where the source materials came from.  Extensive remains of five glass furnaces have also been identified.
Prof Roberta Gilchrist from the Department of Archaeology said: "The research project reveals new evidence for the early date of the monastery at Glastonbury and charts its development over one thousand years, from the 6th century to its dissolution in the 16th century."
Glass-making at York and Wearmouth is recorded in historical documents in the 670s but Glastonbury provides the earliest and most substantial archaeological evidence for glass-making in Saxon Britain.
The story of the Abbey's pioneering role in medieval crafts and technology is outlined in an exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey Museum which runs until 16 September.

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