Posted by: iMalqata Blog | February 12, 2015

Fragile Elegance, Part II: Live and Learn

Diana Craig Patch

The other day my blog, about the beautiful glass fragment we thought belonged to the rim of a vessel, had a postscript pointing out that Malqata is a site used really only during the reign of one pharaoh.   That statement remains true; there is a small addition to the Amun temple during the reign of Haremheb but the site was never occupied substantially again. However I did not realize that there was another period that left behind a few traces at Malqata.

N145-E180-level 1_glass rim-side b_2-7-2015(canon4898)

From the same general area in which the blue rim fragment was found, we recovered another glass fragment belonging to the rim of a different jar. It too is lovely; the piece is made from pale yellow glass that is almost transparent. In addition, it is pierced horizontally in a technique known as a hollow rim. Its transparency and color were suspicious, however, because glass from Pharaonic Egypt is opaque rather than translucent, never mind transparent. However the site’s context made it difficult to believe this was from some other source. The Conservator in Charge of the Department of Objects Conservation at the MMA, Lisa Pilosi, specializes in ancient glass, so we decided to consult her. She told us that based on a study of the photographs we supplied she thought that the rim was a fragment from a vessel that could be no earlier than the Roman Period. Lisa wrote that Pharaonic glass was never transparent (true) and that she could see the bubbles created during glass blowing, the technique used for this vessel. Pharaonic glass is not blown (I knew that but the fact had slipped my mind). The “hollow rim” occurred when the glass was rolled over to form the rim (a piece of new information for me to tuck away for future use).

N145-E180-level 1_glass rim-side b_2-7-2015(canon4440)

It seems that a few pieces that are Roman in date can be found at Malqata. To the best of our knowledge, there is no Roman temple or sizeable settlement in the immediate vicinity from which the tiny pieces of glass and jewelry (also known from the site) might have originated. Roman sherds are uncommon and they should be ubiquitous in a settlement. During earlier excavations, however, a few intact Roman vessels and burials were found. It is likely that these objects, including this glass rim, come from the isolated burials intrusive to the site. The unusual piece of blue glass with white dots is therefore probably Roman too.

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