From Mine to Microscope: Advances in the Study of Ancient Technology
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These twenty papers dedicated to Mike Tite focus upon the interpretation of ancient artefacts and technologies, particularly through the application of materials analysis. Instruments from the human eye to mass spectrometry provide insights into a range of technologies ranging from classical alum extraction to Bronze Age wall painting, and cover materials as diverse as niello, flint, bronze, glass and ceramic. Ranging chronologically from the Neolithic through to the medieval period, and geographically from Britain to China, these case studies provide a rare overview which will be of value to students, teachers and researchers with an interest in early material culture.
evaluate the competing interpretations. By the mid-90’s, the whole intellectual enterprise had become mired in controversy and unedifying exchange, much of it in the pages of the journal Archaeometry, edited by Mike Tite (see, for example, Budd et al. 1993, 1995a, 1995b; Gale and Stos-Gale 1992b, 1993, 1995; Leese 1992; Muhly 1995; Pernicka 1992, 1993, 1995; Reedy and Reedy 1992; Sayre et al. 1992). Since the last round of exchanges in the mid-90’s, very little in the way of new archaeological
evaporated the precipitate has accumulated some Fe and Na impurities (melanterite, thenardite, halite). At a higher temperature, 80°C, which could well have been attained on hotter fumarole sites in Roman times, the Al-sulphate precipitates earlier and iron and other impurities remain in solution. So the extent to which precipitates of aluminium sulphate will incorporate iron impurity is a function of the temperature of the heat source, namely the solfatara; it is clear that this temperature
contact edges of the particles, b) melting occurs at the edges creating wavy strips of glass. The particles are drawn together resulting in sintering and contraction. Figure 5 (a): SEM secondary electron image of a non-calcareous ceramic fired at 1000°C (fractured surface) – Totally vitrified matrix. (b): SEM secondary electron image of a calcareous ceramic fired at 1000°C (fractured surface) – An open cellular porous matrix. Hence, the examination of the ceramic microstructure under the
of the raw body clay was almost certainly grey, as all the natural fine calcareous clays that can be found in Greece. The decoration that is going to come out black is painted with the specially refined clay, as discussed earlier. The initial raw colour of the paint material was either orange or red due to its enrichment in iron oxides. The difference in colour of the raw clays between body and paint helped the artist to paint the decoration details, which in some cases were extremely fine. The
of major royal centres or temples. In the Bronze Age Mediterranean the highly controlled addition of very low levels of a cobalt-rich colorant to produce a blue colour in plant ash glasses led to the production and distribution of glass ingots (Nicholson et al. 1997; Henderson 2000: 60). For opaque yellow glass, lead isotope signatures appear to show two distinct production zones, in Mesopotamia and Egypt (Brill et al. 1973) – although this is not necessarily a reflection of where the raw glass