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Compositional variation in Roman colourless glass objects from the bocholtz burial (the Netherlands)

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Author: Huisman, D.J. · Groot, T. de · Pols, S. · Os, B.J.H. van · Degryse, P.
Institution: TNO Bouw en Ondergrond
Source:Archaeometry, 3, 51, 413-439
Identifier: 241540
Keywords: Geosciences · Antimony · Closed find · Glass production · Lead isotopes · Netherlands · Roman · Strontium isotopes · Sulphidicore · Trace elements · antimony · glass · isotopic composition · isotopic ratio · lead isotope · strontium isotope · trace element · Benelux · Eurasia · Europe · Netherlands · Western Europe


We investigated the major and trace element composition and Pb and Sr isotope characteristics of a series of about 20 colourless glass objects from a single high-status Roman burial from the Netherlands (Bocholtz). The major elements show a relatively homogeneous group, with one outlier. This is corroborated by the Sr isotopes. Based on the Sb and Pb content, three major groups can be discerned, with two other outliers. This grouping is corroborated by the contents of the trace elements Bi, Sn, Ag, As and Mo, and by variations in lead isotopic ratios. On the basis of these results, we conclude that the glass of all objects was probably made with sand and lime from the same source. The variation in trace elements and lead isotope composition is most likely the result of variations in the composition of the sulphidic antimony ore(s) that were used to decolourize the glass. The composition of the Bocholtz glass is compared with that of other Roman glass, and implications for production models, trade and use of colourless glass objects are discussed. On the basis of isotopic and major element variation, we conclude that the antimony ore presumably originated from different mines. © 2009 University of Oxford.