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  • Liz James (a1), G J Leigh (a2) and Nadine Schibille (a3)


This paper seeks to characterise through elemental analysis some unusual gold glass tesserae said to have been found at a Roman villa site in Southwick, West Sussex. The site is no longer accessible, being underneath a Methodist chapel, but it has been excavated, to some extent, on several occasions. Glass tesserae are not common in a British setting but they are by no means unusual in Roman mosaics. Gold glass tesserae, however, in which gold leaf is sandwiched between two layers of glass, are very unusual: fewer than twenty such tesserae are known from Roman Britain and the seven examples from Southwick make up the largest single group. However, the provenance of these Southwick tesserae remains doubtful and so they were analysed and compared to gold glass tesserae from Roman London to try and establish whether they are compositionally related to typical Roman glass. For comparative reasons, the handful of coloured glass tesserae from Southwick were also analysed. Our results suggest that the tesserae said to be from Southwick are anomalous in relation to the other material and cannot be assigned to the Roman period.

Cet article tente de caractériser, par une analyse élémentaire, des tesselles à feuille d'or, qui auraient été trouvées sur le site d'une villa romaine de Southwick, dans l'Ouest du Sussex. Le site, qui n'est plus accessible car il se trouve sous une chapelle méthodiste, a fait l'objet de fouilles, dans une certaine mesure, à plusieurs reprises. Les tesselles de verre ne sont pas courantes dans un cadre britannique, mais elles ne sont nullement inhabituelles dans les mosaïques romaines. Les tesselles qui contiennent une feuille d'or entre deux couches de verre, sont cependant très rares : moins de vingt de ces tesselles sont connues comme provenant de la période de domination romaine en Grande-Bretagne, et les sept exemples de Southwick en composent le groupe le plus important. Cependant, la provenance de ces tesselles de Southwick reste incertaine. C'est pourquoi elles ont été analysées et comparées à des tesselles à feuille d'or du Londres romain, afin d'essayer de savoir si, par leur composition, elles pourraient se rapprocher du verre romain typique. À des fins de comparaison, la poignée de tesselles en verre coloré de Southwick ont également été analysées. D'après nos résultats, les tesselles dites de Southwick sont anormales par rapport à d'autres matériaux et ne peuvent pas être attribuées à la période romaine.



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  • Liz James (a1), G J Leigh (a2) and Nadine Schibille (a3)


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