Friday, April 19, 2013

Reconstructing how the Romans made glass

Man has been making glass since the third millennium BC and during the manufacture of ancient glass, antimony, in a metal or mineral form, was added to make it colourless or opaque.

Different antimony ores have slightly different antimony isotope ratios and researchers in Belgium and the UK have developed an inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) method to detect and quantify these tiny differences. 

By analysing samples of Roman glass, the team hope to uncover clues about how the glass was made and the geographical provenance of the raw materials.

Initial results suggest antimony ores from at least two locations were used to make the Roman glass being analysed. 

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