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New research on Roman cameo glass



subset for posterity:
Associate Professor Richard Whiteley from the ANU School of Art and Design will present his new evidence at a historical glassworks conference at the British Museum next week.

Associate Professor Whiteley believes archaeologists, historians and museum curators have for hundreds of years incorrectly classified Roman cameo glass from the period of around 30BC-50AD as blown glass - including the British Museum's most famous example; the Portland Vase.

Associate Professor Whiteley, who is known internationally for his glass artworks, said his research over the past decade indicated the Roman cameo glass was not blown glass, but was made by a cold-pressing process now known as pate de verre.

His research was based in part by examining a fragment of Roman cameo glass from the ANU Classics Department under a Computed Tomography scanner at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

The images for the first time revealed the shape, direction and composition of air bubbles trapped between a blue and white layer of Roman glass.

"I remember the moment I saw it, I said: Oh my god, this is extraordinary, because I also saw cold working marks in the surface which were inconsistent with the assumption that it was blown," Associate Professor Whiteley said.

"I carve and shape glass with my hands, and have done for decades. The marks I saw were inconsistent with what I see in my work.

"We saw a bubble configuration within the glass that results from a pressing and turning motion. I believe that cold granulated glass has been packed into a mould and then a blob of molten blue glass introduced and pressed against mould heating the white granules from behind.

"You just would not get a bubble that size and flat-shaped from blowing. The most striking thing about it, is not its size and its flatness, but we found a section where the blue glass has mixed with the granulated white specks of glass."

Associate Professor Whiteley acknowledges a German artist, Rosemarie Lierke, came to a similar conclusion in the 1990s, but her writings have not been accepted because of the lack of evidence.

Lectures at British Museum 3rd to 4th November 2017

Fascinating stuff, and really interesting too, how old "truths" can be (eventually) overturned.
I'm a little confused though. If the German lady had no evidence, how did she come to her conclusions?
Or was that simply a case of somebody being conveniently ignored and swept aside because the hoi-poli didn't like it?  ;D

flying free:
I will not be able to go.  Would have loved to.
Anyone able to report back?

This just blows my mind when I think of the replica vases made using cameo methods, Northwood, Locke, Terri's vase.

For example, see page 89 here (and previous pages etc for further info) - where it says they are believed to have blown 30 to 40 blanks (they were cased obviously) for Locke to cut, because they knew many would 'fly' because of the different rates of annealing of the layers.  Apart from two, they all   broke, and I read it that two survived, but after Locke started work on one, that one also broke.

Source:  Roman Glass in the Corning Vol 3, David Whitehouse

This actually has been poorly received more pomp than useful perhaps.


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