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New Light on Old Glass: Byzantine Glass and Mosaics

A 3-day conference on Byzantine glass was held at the British Museum in London
27-29 May 2010.

The conference was organised by Chris Entwistle, Curator of the Late Roman and Byzantine Collections, and Liz James, Director of the Leverhulme International Network for the Composition of Byzantine Glass Mosaic Tesserae (University of Sussex).

The three days covered topics such as glass and mosaics, gold glass, the Lycurgus Cup, techniques of manufacture and new discoveries in Byzantine glass.

Were you aware that the earliest known use of gold tesserae was in 55 AD, in the Gardens of Lucullus by the Spanish Steps in Rome? Or that you can make mosaic gold glass in 5 minutes using an all-in-one recipe? Or that when you come across black tesserae streaked with red it's because the mosaicists were trying to make red and it went wrong? Or that sand from Haifa in Palestine was popular because it was pale and and had a high calcium carbonate content which made for stable glass?

Don't worry if you missed the conference: the proceedings will be published in due course. On the other hand you missed the chance to buttonhole top people in the business about any aspect of Byzantine mosaics that might puzzle you....

The talks comprised:

Cristina Boschetti: Glass tesserae across the ages - the origin and development of glass and vitreous materials in ancient mosaic

Marco Verità: Has scientific analysis made any difference in the study of mosaics?

Hanna Witte: Studies in Middle Byzantine glass mosaics from Amorium

Anastassios Antonaras: Production and uses of glass in Byzantine Thessaloniki

Judith McKenzie: The mosaics in the Great Mosque in Damascus: who made them?

Claudia Bolgia: The use of gold and the idea of light in Cosmati mosaics: the case
of the Ara Coeli church in Rome

Ann Terry: Sixth-century mosaic artistry: a study of the Porec church mosaics

Irina Andreescu-Treadgold: The Christ head at the Metropolitan Museum and other mosaic fakes in museums

Ian Freestone: The composition, production and trade of glass in Late Antiquity

Marianne Stern: Glass production in Byzantine texts

Rosemarie Lierke: The fragment of a figurative diatretum in Mainz, and other cage cups -
technological observations

Jas Elsner: The Lycurgus Cup

Irina Andreescu-Treadgold and Julian Henderson: An interdisciplinary study of glass mosaic tesserae from the Basilica Ursiana, Ravenna, in context

Mark Wypyski: Glass from Nishapur

Fatma Marii: Glass tesserae from the Petra Church

Nadine Schibille: Chemical analyses of Byzantine and Islamic glass from Pergamon

Maria Vassilaki: No glass please: the mosaics at Porta Panaghia in Thessaly

Francesca Dell’Aqua: Borders of experimentalism: glass in the frame of the Genoa Mandylion

Daniel Keller: Liturgical glass vessels in the early Byzantine Church

Daniel Howells: Making Late Antique gold glass

Andrew Meek: Gold glass in Late Antiquity: scientific analysis of the British Museum collection

Yael Gorin-Rosen: Byzantine gold-glass from excavations in the Holy Land

David Whitehouse: Early Islamic silver stain (stained glass)

Lisa Pilosi: Middle Byzantine silver stain

Further information at:

Or contact:, Art History, Unversity of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QQ, UK.

See also our earlier News Item - "Byzantine Mosaic Glass".



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