Reverse Engineering Eighth Century C.E. Window Glass Processing at Sardis, Turkey

Kayli N. McArthur, Pamela B. Vandiver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From the early eighth century CE Byzantine shops next to the Synagogue and Bath-Gymnasium Complex at Sardis, Turkey, were excavated from 1958 to 1969 more than 50 pounds, or about 350 panes of transparent flat glass sheets interpreted as window glass. Examination using optical microscopy showed little variation in size, shape, thickness, edge shape, tool marks, bubble and cord elongation and alignment. Microstructural and compositional variation of weathered surfaces and unweathered cross sections were studied using scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray analysis (SEM-EDS). Differential thermal analysis (DTA) was used to determine glass transition temperature range. Three traditional window-forming methods have been described in the glass technology literature: crown, plate and cylinder. The Sardis glass is most similar to criteria expected for cylinder glass, but significant differences were documented. Consistently patterned characteristics evidence a developed technological practice. Replicative tests were conducted using various forming sequences. Wooden and ceramic two-piece molds were made to overblow one or both ends, and hot glass threads were used to thermal shock the cylinder ends and to make a vertical crack that allowed opening during a reheating and slumping operation. These reconstructed methods fit the observed microstructural and macrostructural characteristics of the glass sheets. Analysis of glass manufacturing methods in antiquity contribute to the historical knowledge of craft practices and to the interpretation of industrial debris excavated at markets and industrial workshops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1911-1926
Number of pages16
JournalMRS Advances
Issue number35-36
StatePublished - 2017


  • amorphous
  • annealing
  • archaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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