Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1769–1782 | Cite as

Lines, spots and trails: a microscopic and mineralogical study of antimonate-opacified glass beads from Lofkënd, Albania

  • Vanessa MurosEmail author
  • Nikolaos Zacharias
Original Paper


This study focuses on a group of decorated glass beads (twelfth–tenth century BC), belonging to a larger assemblage that was excavated from the prehistoric burial tumulus at Lofkënd, Albania. The bulk glass, opaque glass decorations, and corroded areas were examined and analyzed using variable pressure-scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive spectroscopy (VP-SEM-EDS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The four glass beads analyzed were made using a plant ash-based alkali and colored with an iron containing chromophore which gave the glass its dark green color. Calcium antimonate was the predominant white opacifier used. Sodium antimonate was found as the opacifier in one sample. Its occurrence is likely accidental and formed due to a low concentration of calcium in the glass. Lead antimonate was identified in one sample and, along with calcium antimonate which was also present, would have acted as an opacifier for the white glass.


Ancient glass Opacifiers Sodium antimonate Lead antimonate Calcium antimonate Albania Late bronze age Early Iron age XRD VP-SEM-EDS 



The authors would like to thank the following people for their help and support for this project and the analysis: Dr. John Papadopoulos (UCLA, Dept. of Classics and the Cotsen Institute of Archeology), Dr. Sarah Morris (UCLA, Dept. of Classics and the Cotsen Institute of Archeology), and Dr. Lorenc Bejko (Dept. of Archeology and Cultural Heritage Management, University of Tirana), co-directors, Lofkënd Archeological project; Dr. David Scott, founding director UCLA/Getty Conservation Program and Emeritus Prof., Dept of Art History, UCLA; Dr. Bruce Kaiser, Chief Scientist, Bruker AXS; Eleni Palamara, Laboratory of Archaeometry, Univ. of the Peloponnese; Dr. Robert Brill, Emeritus Scientist, Corning Museum of Glass; Alma Bardho, Conservation Assistant, Lofkënd Archeological Project; Allison Lewis (Oakland Museum of California), 2006 conservation intern, Lofkënd Archeological Project; Dr. Marco Verità, Laboratorio di Analisi dei Materiali Antichi LAMA, Università IUAV di Venezia; Dr. Parviz Holakooei, Dept. of Objects Conservation, Metropolitan Museum of Art. The UCLA/Getty Conservation Program and the Molecular and Nano Archeology Laboratory (Materials Science and Engineering Dept., UCLA) provided access to their laboratory and analytical equipment. The conservation of the finds from Lofkënd, as well as the initial examination and sampling of the beads, was made possible by support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Steinmetz Family Foundation.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCLA/Getty Conservation ProgramLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Archaeometry, Department of History, Archaeology and Cultural Resources ManagementUniversity of the PeloponneseKalamataGreece

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