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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Piece of millefiori glass found on the Lower Agora

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Glass Studies: August 8-12, 2004

Veerle Lauwers continued her doctoral research on imported, locally produced, and recycled glass. One special find this week was a piece of millefiori glass, unfortunately heavily eroded, found outside the shops of the Lower Agora. The making of millefiori (Italian for "thousand flowers") does not require a very complicated technique, although it is very time-consuming. Separate roundels sliced from a long glass cane (a gathering of different glass colors around a core) were joined. All roundels were a cross section of the original cane, and the complete vessel consisted of thousands of these attached roundels. When all these separate pieces were arranged into a disk, the latter was heated and molded into the shape of the final product, and the surface was ground upon cooling. Further in-depth study of these two sherds should reveal more chronological information. For the moment, it is still early to tell whether these pieces are of early Roman or early Byzantine origin. In both cases, however, we are certainly dealing with imported goods. Only a few production centers in the antique world are known to have made this kind of ware, the West Syrian-Egyptian koinè (and/or Alexandria--opinions differ) in the early Roman period and Samarra on the Tigris (capital of the Abbasid dynasty, A.D. 750-1258) in the early Byzantine period. However, it is important to bear in mind that the chronological context in which these two sherds were found is Sagalassos phase 8 or early phase 9 (end of the sixth and beginning of the seventh centuries A.D., respectively), a firm indication (together with the small amount of these sherds) that these pieces are either intrusive or residual to the layer.

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