A XANES study of chromophores in archaeological glass
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We applied X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy (XANES) to obtain information on the origin of glass colour of several archaeological samples and on the oxidation conditions employed during their production. We studied a series of selected glass fragments—mainly from excavated primary and secondary production centres and dated to the first millennium AD—containing iron and manganese in a wide compositional range. In most of the studied samples iron is rather oxidised, while Mn K-edge XANES data show that, in all the studied glasses, Mn is mainly present in its reduced form (predominantly 2+), with the possible subordinate presence of Mn3+. The most oxidised samples are the HIMT (high iron manganese titanium) glasses, while the less oxidised ones belong to the primary natron glass series from the early Islamic tank furnaces at Bet Eliezer (Israel), and to the series coming from a Roman glass workshop excavated in Basinghall Street, London. In these glasses, iron is approximately equally distributed over the 2+ and 3+ oxidation states. The XANES analyses of two glasses which had been deliberately decolourized using Sb- and Mn-based decolourizers demonstrate that Sb is more effective than Mn as oxidant.
The authors are grateful to the BM08 GILDA beamline staff (ESRF, Grenoble) for assistance during the XANES experiments.
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