9th Experimental Archaeology Conference abstract – Krzyżanowska and Frankiewicz

Production of glass beads in open hearth based on findings from Ribe (early medieval)

Marta Krzyżanowska (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland) and Mateusz Frankiewicz (Experimental Archaeology Laboratory, Poland)

There are several theories in archaeological literature of how the glass beads were made. In many publications and during archaeological festivals there are tendency to use clay furnaces where the glass beads are shaped. In our experiment, we assumed that there is easier way for glass beads production than building a clay furnace. We conduct our experiment on open fire hearth with flat surface. We used tools which were based on archaeological findings, such as mandrels from Ribe. Some traces on glass rods may indicated that metal tongs might be used by early medieval glass makers that is why we used metal tongs for holding the glass rods. In our experiment we used Effetre Murano glass rods. We also tried to make simple beads eg. melon beads and beads with polychromatic ornamentations eg. eye beads and the racitella rods. The experiment showed that two people with high skill are required to make glass bead, one for production of beads itself and one who would be blowing the bellows according to stage of bead production.. During the experiments we were using our knowledge and experience from contemporary glass beads making.

Bencard, M., 1978. Wikingerzeitliches Handwerk in Ribe. Acta Archaeologica: 49, pp. 113-138.

Gam, T., 1990. Prehistoric Glass Technology – Experiments and Analyses. Journal of Danish Archaeology: 9, pp. 203-213

Grimble, J. 2010. Making glass bead from the past. EuroRea: 7, pp. 19-22

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