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Vitreous Materials at Amarna

The production of glass and faience in 18th Dynasty Egypt

Andrew J Shortland
Publication Year:
200pp. Includes 114 black and white figures and photos 7 colour photographs
ISBN 10:
BAR number:


This book investigates the technological processes involved in the making of ancient vitreous materials concentrating on the site of Amarna, in Middle Egypt. Amarna was the capital city of the 18th Dynasty king, Akhenaten (1352-1336 BC). The manufacture of vitreous materials in Dynastic Egypt reached its zenith in terms of artistic and technical accomplishment in the 18th Dynasty. Amidst the debate over the source of these technological advances, whether some of the vitreous materials were imported or manufactured locally, the entire process of manufacture is examined, from the selection of raw materials, preliminary processing and eventual firing right through to the distribution of the finished objects. Analysis of the finished objects and the wastematerials of the production sequence by scanning electron microscope and other techniques forms the principal source of evidence, supported by close examination of the archaeological context. The significance of the different types and colours of glassesis examined and compared to the material from tomb paintings and texts, which sheds light on the relationship between Egpytian glass and Mesopotamian glasses. The overall social and political climate of the city of Amarna and other New Kingdom towns is also considered where this might help our understanding of the conditions of craftsmen in vitreous materials or of the overall control of the industry.