Revisiting the beginnings of tin-opacified Islamic glazes
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The generally accepted theory is that the demand for Islamic glazed pottery started in Abbasid Iraq in the 9th century AD with the production of a range of glazed wares in response to the import of Chinese stonewares and porcelains. However, Oliver Watson has recently proposed that the demand for Islamic glazed pottery first occurred in Egypt and Syria in the 8th century AD resulting in the production of opaque yellow decorated wares. Using a combination of SEM analysis of polished cross-sections, and surface analysis using hand-held XRF or PIXE, Coptic Glazed Ware from Egypt, Yellow Glazed Ware from Syria, and comparable wares from Samarra, Kish and Susa have been analysed. The analyses show that the opaque yellow decoration was the result of lead stannate particles in a high lead glaze, which it is suggested was produced using a lead-silica-tin mixture. The use of lead stannate in the production of yellow opaque glazes is explained in terms of technological transfer from contemporary Islamic glassmakers who continued the Byzantine tradition of glassmaking. It is further argued that the introduction of opaque yellow glazed pottery into Mesopotamia could have provided the social context for the sudden emergence of tin-opacified white glazed pottery in Abbasid Iraq in the 9th century AD. However, in view of the very different glaze compositions employed for the yellow and white opaque glazes, it seems probable that the white tin-opacified glazes used for Abbasid cobalt blue and lustre decorated wares represent a separate but parallel technological tradition with its origins in the production of Islamic opaque white glass. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
CitationTite, M., Watson, O., Pradell, T., Matin, M., Molina, G., Domoney, K., Bouquillon, A. Revisiting the beginnings of tin-opacified Islamic glazes. "Journal of archaeological science", 01 Maig 2015, vol. 57, p. 80-91.