Ancient Biographies

Trace element analysis to investigate provenance and transportation mechanism of Late Bronze Age glass

  • Victoria Kemp Cranfield University
Keywords: Late Bronze Age Glass, LA-ICP-MS, Gurob, Grave Goods, Trace Element, Evidence, Forensic, Egypt, Mesopotamia

Abstract

LA-ICPMS analysis was carried out on a scaraboid blue glass bead (Hunterian Museum Glasgow, D.1921.39) excavated from Tomb 27 in Gurob, in the Southern Fayum region of Egypt. Gurob is known to have been the site of a ‘harem palace’ established in the reign of Tuthmosis III (1479-1425 BC). The tomb was located at the northernmost point of the New Kingdom cemetery and was undisturbed, containing the remains of seven females and two children, and was dated by the excavators to between the reigns of Amenophis I (1525-1504 BC) and Tuthmosis III. The glass scarab was coloured by copper and trace element values of La, Cr, Ti and Zr exhibited compositional consistency with glasses from Mesopotamia, rather than from Egypt. Therefore, the glass scarab represents a rare example of Mesopotamian glass to be discovered in Egypt, in addition to being some of the earliest glass found. The finds support iconographic references in the Hall of the Annals at Karnak to the import of early glass into Egypt. The implication is that these beads represent luxury items transported into Egypt by high-ranking foreign women perhaps in connection with the Gurob harem palace.

References

Aldred, C. (1971) Jewels of the Pharaohs: Egyptian Jewellery of the Dynastic Period. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Aruz, J. et al. (2008) Beyond Babylon: art, trade, and diplomacy in the second millennium B.C. Metropolitan Museum of Art (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Brunton, G. Engelbach, R. (1927) British School of Archaeology in Egypt and Egyptian Research Account, Twenty Fourth Year, 1918 - Gurob. British School of Archaeology.

Brunton, G. and Engelbach, R. (1927) British School of Archaeology in Egypt and Egyptian Research Account, Twenty Fourth Year, 1918 - Gurob. London: British School of Archaeology in Egypt.

Carter, H. and Romer, J. (2008) The Tomb of Tutankhamun. Max Press.

Cohen, A. C. (2005) Death rituals, ideology, and the development of early Mesopotamian kingship: towards a new understanding of Iraq’s royal cemetery of Ur. Brill Academic Publishers (Ancient Magic and Divination).

Feucht, E. (1999) ‘Jewelry’, in Bard, K. (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Routledge, pp. 385–387.

Freestone, I. C. (1991) ‘Looking into Glass’, in Bowman, S. (ed.) Science and the Past. London: British Museum Press, pp. 37–56.

Giannini, R., Freestone, I. C. and Shortland, A. J. (2017) ‘European cobalt sources identified in the production of Chinese famille rose porcelain’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 80, pp. 27–36.

Grajetski, W. (2003) Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt: Life in Death for Rich and Poor. Bloomsbury Academic.

Henderson, J. (1985) ‘The raw materials of early glass production’, Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 4(3), pp. 267–291.

Hodgkinson, A. K. (2017) Technology and Urbanism in Late Bronze Age Egypt (Oxford Studies In Egyptian Archaeology). Oxford: OUP Oxford.

Ikram, S. (2015) Death and Burial in Ancient Egypt. American University in Cairo Press (American University in Cairo Press Series).

Jackson, C. M. and Nicholson, P. T. (2007) Brilliant things for Akhenaten: The Production of Glass, Vitreous Materials and Pottery at Amarna Site O45.1. Edited by P. T. Nicholson. London: Egypt Exploration Society.

Jackson, C. M. and Nicholson, P. T. (2010) ‘The provenance of some ingots from the Uluburun shipwreck’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(2), pp. 295–301.

Kaczmarczyk, A. and Hedges, R. E. M. (1983) Ancient Egyptian faience: an analytical survey of Egyptian faience from predynastic to Roman times. Warminster: Aris and Phillips.

Kemp, B. J. (1989) Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a civilization. 2nd edn. London: Routledge.

Lilyquist, C. et al. (1993) ‘Part 2. Glass’, in Lilyquist, C. and Brill, R. H. (eds) Studies in Ancient Egyptian Glass. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 23–58.

Lilyquist, C. (2004) The Tomb of Three Foreign Wives of Tuthmosis III. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Lucas, A. and Harris, J. R. (1962) Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries. 3rd edn. London: Edward Arnold & Co.

Van De Mieroop, M. (1997) The Ancient Mesopotamian City. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moorey, P. R. S. (1994) Ancient Mesopotamian materials and industries. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moorey, P. R. S. (2001) ‘The mobility of artisans and opportunities for technology transfer’, in Shortland, A. J. (ed.) The social context of technological change. Oxford: Oxbow books, pp. 39–58.

Ogden, J. (2000) ‘Metals’, in Nicholson, P. and Shaw, I. (eds) Ancient Egyptian materials and technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Petrie, W. M. F. (1891) Illahun, Kahun and Gurob. London: David Nutt.

Piccione, P. A. (1999) ‘Tomb Furnishings’, in Bard, K. (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Routledge, pp. 839–841.

Pusch, E. and Rehren, Th. (2007) Rubinglass für den Pharao: Hochtemperatur-Technologie in der Ramses-Stadt. Hildesheim: Gerstenburg.

Reader, A. (2003) Near Eastern Archaeology: A Reader. Edited by S. Richard. Pennsylvania State University Press.

Sethe, K. (1907) Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, Historisch-biographische Urkunden. Vol 3 Part 9/10 of Urkunden des aegyptischen Altertums. Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs.

Shaw, I. (2007) The royal harim at Medinet el-Ghurob: new fieldwork (2005-7). Liverpool.

Shaw, I. (2011a) ‘New fieldwork at the Medinet el-Gurob New Kingdom settlement: investigating a harem palace town in the Faiyum (summary of the 2009-10 seasons)’, in Belova, G. A. and Ivanov, S. V. (eds) Achievements and Problems of Modern Archaeology: Proceedings of the International Conference. Moscow: Russian Academy of Sciences Center for Egyptological Studies, pp. 1–18.

Shaw, I. (2011b) ‘Seeking the Ramesside royal harem: new fieldwork at Medinet el-Gurob’, in Collier, M. and Snape, S. (eds) Ramesside Studies in Honour of Ken Kitchen. Bolton: Rutherford Press, pp. 453–63.

Shaw, I. (2012) ‘The Gurob Harem palace project, Spring 2012’, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 98, pp. 43–54.

Shortland, A. J. (2012) Lapis Lazuli from the Kiln : Glass and Glassmaking in the Late Bronze Age. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Shortland, A. J. et al. (2017) ‘The analysis of Late Bronze Age glass from Nuzi and the question of the origin of glassmaking’, Archaeometry.

Shortland, A. J., Rogers, N. and Eremin, K. (2007) ‘Trace element discriminants between Egyptian and Mesopotamian Late Bronze Age glasses’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 34(5), pp. 781–789.

Shortland, A. J. and Tite, M. S. (2000) ‘Raw materials of glass from Amarna and implications for the origins of Egyptian glass’, Archaeometry, 42(1), pp. 141–153.

Smirniou, M. and Rehren, Th. (2011) ‘Direct evidence of primary glass production in Late Bronze Age Amarna, Egypt’, Archaeometry, 53(1), pp. 58–80.

Smirniou, M. and Rehren, Th. (2013) ‘Shades of blue - cobalt-copper coloured blue glass from New Kingdom Egypt and the Mycenaean world: A matter of production or colourant source?’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 40, pp. 4731–4743.

Turner, W. E. S. (1956a) ‘Studies in ancient glasses and glass making processes. Part III. The chronology of glass making constituents’, Journal of the Society of Glass Technology, 40, pp. 39–52.

Turner, W. E. S. (1956b) ‘Studies in ancient glasses and glass making processes. Part IV. The chemical composition of ancient glasses’, Journal of the Society of Glass Technology, 40, pp. 162–184.

Varberg, J. et al. (2016) ‘Mesopotamian glass from Late Bronze Age Egypt, Romania, Germany, and Denmark’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 74, pp. 184–194.

Walton, M. et al. (2009) ‘Evidence for the trade of Mesopotamian and Egyptian glass to Mycenean Greece’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 36, pp. 1496–1503.

Wilkinson, A. (1971) Ancient Egyptian Jewellery. London: Methuen & Co Ltd.

Wreszinski, W. (1923) Atlas zur altaegyptischen Kulturgeschichte. Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs.
Published
2019-05-16
How to Cite
Kemp, Victoria. 2019. “Ancient Biographies”. Archaeological and Environmental Forensic Science 1 (2), 161-74. https://doi.org/10.1558/aefs.37121.
Section
Articles