2008 | 53 | 2 | 339-350
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QUESTIONS CONCERNING RESEARCH ON GLASS PRODUCTS FROM SITES OF LUSATIAN CULTURE IN THE WAKE OF A STUDY BY J.T. MATYSIAK AND T. PROKOP (2005). (Problemy badan wyrobów szklanych znanych ze stanowisk kultury luzyckiej...)

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Research on glass products from Lusatian Culture sites is hardly satisfactory despite a recent flow of published studies devoted solely to this object category. Most archaeologists pay little attention to glass products, limiting their description of these objects to overall shape, color of the glass and dimensions. The more inquiring among researchers encounter difficulties that they are no always equipped to deal with. A good case in point is a study by J.T. Matysiak and T. Prokop (2005), presenting a single glass bead from a burial ground of the Lusatian Culture in Zakrzówek Szlachecki (Radomsko district). The authors went beyond a traditional description of formal traits to attempt a determination of technique, which they identified as 'winding' or the so-called 'drop' technique. They failed, however, to present the grounds for this determination - whether it was observation of evidence of technical processing (e.g. ellipsoid gas bubbles or glass trails) or merely intuition. The biggest doubts are raised by a consideration of the results of glass chemical composition analysis presented by the authors. Matysiak and Prokop did not give any of the information essential in studies of this kind: the method of analysis, number of analyses and source of samples (whether external surface or glass from inside the bead). Finally, the said bead has been presented by Matysiak and Prokop in two views (but no section drawing) with shading to enhance its appearance. Nothing of the inner structure and the inclusions and gas bubbles in the glass has been shown in the drawings. The proper description and interpretation of results of glass chemical composition analyses, not to mention a good drawing of an object, is not an easy task, as this brief look at Matysiak and Prokop's work has demonstrated. Researchers would do well to follow the principles of description of historic glass (Dekówna and Olczak - Principes... 2002), comprising the fullest set of data available on a given piece. According to these principles, the description starts with information about the find context. This is followed by an examination of the first the object's external characteristics and then specific characteristics informing about technique and production technology. Bibliographic data are included at the end. It follows from this order of description that the object's observable and macroscopically examined features: state of preservation, shape of body and ornament, and dimensions, are considered first. Next come characteristics seen in part with the naked eye and in part with the use of a magnifying glass and/or microscope: this includes evidence of technical processing, technique of execution of the body and ornament, state of preservation of the glass, faults in the glass mass. The last stage is constituted by physico-chemical analyses of certain characteristics: glass chemical composition, colorants, decolorizers, opacifiers, melting temperature. An essential addition to the object description is a drawing, showing not only the body shape and the ornament, but also all faults noted in the glass mass, such as gas bubbles for example. Photographs can be informative, if they show the form of the bead and the photographs under a microscope are a source of important information about the inner structure of the glass, as well as its state of preservation. 2 Figures, 2 Tables.
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  • Tomasz Purowski, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, al. Solidarnosci 105, 00-140 Warszawa, Poland
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