Department of Art History

Late Antique and Byzantine Glass

Late Antique and Byzantine Glass and Glass Mosaics – Dr Nadine Schibille

Funder: This research has initially been funded by a Marie Curie Intra-European Postdoctoral Fellowship; a John Fell OUP Research Fund; The British Academy Small Research Grant

This research centres on the analytical study of Late Antique and Byzantine glass and glass mosaics, in order to explore the relationship between artistic production and the availability of glass at Mediterranean consumer sites in the first millennium CE. For example, the original sixth-century mosaic decoration of Hagia Sophia is exceptional in that the colours of the mosaic tesserae are limited to gold, silver, red, blue and green, despite the fact that contemporary mosaic assemblages typically show a much greater diversity of colours (e.g. Hagios Polyeuktos in Constantinople or San Vitale in Ravenna). Chemically, however, the tesserae from Hagia Sophia are closely related to those in San Vitale and Hagios Polyeuktos. These findings demonstrate that the artistic production is as much dependent on aesthetic considerations as it is determined by material and technological developments.

The research involves analytical and art historical assessments to examine the mechanisms underlying changes in the production and use of glass during the first millennium CE. By combining archaeological and historical methods with archaeometric approaches I characterise the different traditions of glassmaking, colouring and trading prevalent during this period. The ultimate aim is a meta-analysis to map distribution patterns.


N. Schibille and P. Degryse (in press), ‘The glassware: chemical analysis – provenance and recycling’, in The Nabatean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan: cultic offerings, vessels and other specialist reports, final report on Nelson Glueck’s 1937 excavations.

N. Schibille and J. McKenzie (in press), ‘Glass tesserae from Hagios Polyeuktos, Constantinople: their early Byzantine affiliations’, in Neighbours and successor of Rome: Traditions of glass production and use in Europe and the Middle East in the later first millennium AD.

N. Schibille and I.C. Freestone (2013), ‘Composition, Production and Procurement of Glass at San Vincenzo al Volturno: an Early Medieval Monastic Complex in Southern Italy’. PLoS ONE 8(10): e76479. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076479.

L. James, G.J. Leigh and N. Schibille (2013), ‘Gold Glass Tesserae said to be from the Roman Villa site at Southwick, Sussex’. The Antiquaries Journal, 93, 1-15.

N. Schibille, P. Degryse, M. O'Hea, A. Izmer, F. Vanhaecke and J. McKenzie, (2012b), ‘Late Roman glass from the Great Temple at Petra and Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan – Technology and Provenance’. Archaeometry, 54, 997-1022.

N. Schibille, P. Degryse, M. Corremans and C.G. Specht (2012a), ‘Chemical characterisation of glass mosaic tesserae from sixth-century Sagalassos (south-west Turkey): chronology and production techniques’. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39, 1480-1492.

N. Schibille (2011b), ‘Supply routes and the consumption of glass in first-millennium CE Butrint (Albania)’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 38, 2939-2948.

N. Schibille (2011a), ‘Late Byzantine mineral soda high alumina glasses from Asia Minor: a new primary glass production group’, PLoS ONE, 6(4), e18970.

Th. Rehren, F. Marii, N. Schibille, L. Stanford and C. Swan (2010), ‘Glass supply and circulation in early Byzantine southern Jordan’, in Glass in Byzantium – Production, Usage, Analyses. RGZM Symposium, Mainz 2008, eds. J. Drauschke and D. Keller, 65-81.