Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

GOLD GLASS TESSERAE SAID TO BE FROM THE ROMAN VILLA SITE AT SOUTHWICK, WEST SUSSEX

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

Abstract

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.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Anonymous 1853. ‘Notes’, Sussex Archaeol Coll, 1, ix–x
Anonymous 1947. ‘Capel St. Mary’, Proc Suffolk Inst Archaeol Hist, 25 (2), 209
Bayley, J 2008. Lincoln: evidence for glass-working on Flaxengate and other sites in the city, Research Department Report Ser 68, Portsmouth: English Heritage
Canham, R A 1966. ‘Southwick Roman villa’, Sussex Notes Queries, 16, 280281
Conventi, A, Neri, EVerità, M 2012. ‘SEM-EDS analysis of ancient gold glass mosaic tesserae: a contribution to the dating of the materials’, Materials Science Engineering, 32, 〈http://iopscience.iop.org/1757-899X/32/1/012007〉 (6 March 2013)
Cookson, N 1981. ‘Glass tesserae in Britain’, Mosaic, 5, 1316
Cookson, N 1984. Romano-British Mosaics, BAR Brit Ser 135, Oxford: British Archaeological Reports
Coppack, G 1973. ‘The excavation of a Roman and medieval site at Flaxengate, Lincoln’, Lincolnshire Hist Archaeol, 8, 73–114
Fitzpatrick, H P 2004. ‘Roman Britain in 2003: 7. Greater London’, Britannia, 35, 300301
Foy, D, Vichy, MPicon, M 2000. ‘L'ingots de verre en Méditerranée occidentale’, in Annales du 14ème Congrès de AIHV, 5157, Amsterdam: Annales de l'Association Internationale pour l'Histoire de Verre
Foy, D, Picon, M, Vichy, MThirion-Merle, V 2003. ‘Caractérisation des verres de la fin de l'Antiquité en Méditerranée occidentale’, in Échanges et commerce du verre dans le monde antique (eds D Foy and M-D Nenna), 4185, Montagnac: Éditions Monique Mergoil
Freestone, I 2005. ‘The provenance of ancient glass through compositional analysis’, in Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology VII (eds P B Vandiver, J L Mass and A Murray), 195208, Warrendale: Materials Research Society
Freestone, I 2006. ‘Glass production in Late Antiquity and the Early Islamic period: a geochemical perspective’, in Geomaterials in Cultural Heritage (eds M Maggetti and B Messiga), 201216, Bath: Geological Society
Freestone, I, Ponting, MHughes, M J 2002. ‘The origins of the Byzantine glass from Maroni Petrera, Cyprus’, Archaeometry, 44, 257272
Gorin-Rosen, Y 1995. ‘Hadera, Bet Eli'ezer’, Excav Surveys Israel, 13, 4243
Gorin-Rosen, Y 2000. ‘The ancient glass industry in Israel: summary of the finds and new discoveries’, in La route du verre (ed M-D Nenna), 4964, Lyon: Travaux de la maison de l'orient méditerranéen
Henderson, J 1996. ‘Scientific analysis of selected Fishbourne vessel glass and its archaeological interpretation’, in Excavations at Fishbourne 1969–88 (eds B Cunliffe, A Down and D Rudkin), 189192, Chichester Excavations 9, Chichester: Chichester District Council
Henderson, J, McLoughlin, S DMcPhail, D S 2004. ‘Radical changes in Islamic glass technology: evidence for conservatism and experimentation with new glass recipes from Early and Middle Islamic Raqqa, Syria’, Archaeometry, 46, 439468
Jackson, C M, Joyner, L, Booth, C A, Day, P M, Wager, E C WKilikoglou, V 2003. ‘Roman glass-making at Coppergate, York? Analytical evidence for the nature of production’, Archaeometry, 45, 435456
Lane, ACampbell, E 1981. Dunadd: an early Dalriadic capital, Oxford: Oxbow
Lilyquist, CBrill, R H 1993. Studies in Early Egyptian Glass, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Maloney, C 2004. ‘Fieldwork round-up 2003’, London Archaeol, 10, suppl 3, 82
Mirti, P, Pace, M, Negro Ponzi, M MAceto, M 2008. ‘CP-MS analyses of glass fragments of Parthian and Sasanian epoch from Seleucia and Ve Ardasir (central Iraq)’, Archaeometry, 50, 429450
Neal, D SCosh, S R 2009. Roman Mosaics of Britain. Volume 3: South-East Britain, Part 2, London: Society of Antiquaries
Nenna, M-D, Vichy, MPicon, M 1997. ‘L'atelier de verrier de Lyon, du 1er siècle après J-C, et l'origine des verres «Romains»’, Revue d'Archéométrie, 21, 8187
Paynter, S 2008. ‘Experiments in the reconstruction of Roman wood-fired glassworking furnaces: waste products and their formation processes’, J Glass Stud, 50, 271290
Paynter, SKearns, T 2011. West Clacton Reservoir, Great Bentley, Essex: analysis of glass tesserae, Research Department Report Ser 44, Portsmouth: English Heritage
Ricciardi, P, Colomban, P, Tournié, A, Macchiarola, MAyed, N 2009. ‘A non-invasive study of Roman Age mosaic glass tesserae by means of Raman spectroscopy’, J Archaeol Sci, 36, 25512559
Rudling, D A 1985. ‘Excavations of the site of the Southwick Roman villa, 1965 and 1981’, Sussex Archaeol Coll, 123, 7384
Sayre, E VSmith, R W 1961. ‘Compositional categories of ancient glass’, Science, 133, 18241826
Sear, F 1977. Roman Wall and Vault Mosaics, Heidelberg: T H Kerle
Shortland, A J 2002. ‘The use and origin of antimonate colourants in early Egyptian glass’, Archaeometry, 44, 517530
Shortland, A J, Schachner, L, Freestone, ITite, M 2006. ‘Natron as a flux in the early vitreous materials industry: sources, beginnings and reasons for decline’, J Archaeol Sci, 33, 521530
Standing, GLeigh, G J forthcoming. ‘Glass tesserae considered to be from Southwick Roman villa’, Sussex Archaeol Coll
Tyson, R 2000. Medieval Glass Vessels Found in England c AD 1200–1500, CBA Res Rep 121, York: Council for British Archaeology
Verità, M 2006. ‘Glass tesserae and gold leaf in the mosaics of Aquileia’, Quaderni Fruiliani di Archeologia, 16 (1), 712
Webster, G 1948. ‘Lincoln Archaeological Research Committee excavation report 1947’, Archaeol News Letter, 1 (5), 14
Wedepohl, K HBaumann, A 2000. ‘The use of marine molluskan shells for Roman glass and local raw glass production in the Eiffel area (Western Germany)’, Die Naturwissenschaften, 87, 129132
Weyl, W A 1953. Coloured Glass, Sheffield: Society of Glass Technology
Wilson, D RWright, R P 1964. ‘Roman Britain in 1963. I: Sites explored; II: Inscriptions’, J Roman Stud, 54 (1) and (2), 152185
Winbolt, S E 1931. ‘Southwick Roman villa’, Sussex County Mag, July, 479485
Winbolt, S E 1932. ‘Roman villa at Southwick’, Sussex Archaeol Coll, 73, 1332
Winbolt, S E 1935. ‘Romano-British Sussex’, in The Victoria County History of Sussex. Volume 3 (ed L F Salzman), 170, London: Oxford University Press

GOLD GLASS TESSERAE SAID TO BE FROM THE ROMAN VILLA SITE AT SOUTHWICK, WEST SUSSEX

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

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed