When is a bead not a bead? New scientific approaches to glass in North and West Africa

Lecture by Dr Chloe Duckworth (Newcastle University)

2017.01.17 | Christina Levisen

Date Wed 26 Apr
Time 15:00 16:00
Location UrbNet, Moesgård Allé 20, 4230-232


Glass is a transmutable material. It is made in one location, but often worked into form in another. Furthermore, it can be modified throughout its use life, either intentionally or accidentally. This talk will draw upon my recent research into glass recycling, and the analysis of glass objects and production remains from Fazzan in the Central Sahara Desert.

For over two millennia, glass objects have been traded into, and through the Sahara from the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, where they were frequently modified by various means, in order to rework them into objects which satisfied local tastes. Such reworking and modification can often be detected compositionally, the newly-created items bearing traces of their former life histories. Arguments for the independence and creativity of African artisans often focus on the evidence for novel technologies, such as the primary glass production of Ile-Ife in Nigeria. But secondary production and modification are equally fascinating, meaningful practices, and their study can also inform us about the production and manipulation of glass in other areas with far-reaching implications for our understanding of the material record. 

Lecture/talk, History and archaeology