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Glass in Rome during the transition from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages: Materials from the Forum of Caesar

New publication by Cristina Boschetti, Jan Kindberg Jacobsen, Claudio Parisi Presicce, Rubina Raja, Nadine Schibille and Massimo Vitti.

Plan of the Forum of Caesar, with the areas excavated during the 1998–2000 and 2021 campaigns (Photo: The Caesar’s Forum Project)

Within the framework of the large-scale Danish-Italian excavations at Caesar’s Forum in Rome, important glass analysis has been conducted. In a new open access article in the journal Heritage Studies, the glass finds from the Forum of Caesar have been placed in the wider context of the city and the trade networks crossing Europe and the Mediterranean to assess the impact of collecting and recycling on the creation of a new glass economy at the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Glass from the Forum of Caesar

The glass corpus from Caesar’s Forum includes vessels, windowpanes, mosaic tesserae and indicators of production. The corpus was investigated with an interdisciplinary approach to clarify the relationships between chronology, typology and provenance of glass circulating in Rome. In order to investigate the provenance, the chemical composition of 55 selected glass finds was established by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LAICP-MS) at IRAMAT-CEB in Orléans (France).

Visible changes in glass supply and intensification of recycling

The results obtained with the glass corpus from the Forum of Caesar have shed light on the changes in the dynamics of the glass supply during a period of political and economic transition. The compositional features of the glass reflect intensification of recycling in the eight century that marks the drastic contraction of these commercial flows and the interruption of raw glass imports. However, this dramatic change did not exclude Rome from the glass economy. Some fresh eastern glass continued to travel along the trade routes crossing the Adriatic, but the volume of these imports was limited.

Full reference to article

Boschetti, C., Kindberg Jacobsen, J., Parisi Presicce, C., Raja, R., Schibille, N. & Vitti, M. (2022) “Glass in Rome during the transition from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages: Materials from the Forum of Caesar”, Heritage Science 10:95. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40494-022-00729-y

The Caesar Forum Project

The Caesar’s Forum Project and the Danish-Italian excavations are directed by Claudio Parisi Presicce, Rubina Raja and Jan Kindberg Jacobsen. The project is conducted as a collaboration between the Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali in Rome), the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre of Excellence, Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) at Aarhus University and the Danish Institute in Rome (DIR). The project is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation (since 2017) and Aarhus University Research Foundation (since 2019) through a flagship grant. Further support comes from Centre for Urban Network Evolutions, under the grant DNRF119.

Read more about the project here: https://cas.au.dk/en/cfp/