Institute of Archaeology


Early Glass Technology Research Network

Lycurgus Cup (Image courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum)

The Early Glass Technology Research Network (EGTRN) aims at bringing together researchers based around London who undertake research on ancient glass. Although the initial major objective of the network will focus on glass dating to the first millennium AD in western Europe, the Mediterranean and the Near East, other time periods and regions (China, Africa, Medieval glass etc) will also be incorporated.

The past 15 years have seen an increasing interest in glass research, very often combining archaeological approaches, such as chrono-typological studies, and scientific analyses, such as X-ray fluorescence (XRF) or electron probe micro analysis (EPMA) applied in order to determine the chemical composition of a glass object. More recently trace element and isotopic studies have begun to make a significant contribution. Members of the network are involved in these developments.

The network will address crucial questions about raw glass ingredients, their places of origin and production, technology and possible patterns of early glass distribution and trade, thus contributing to the larger discussion concerning economic, cultural, social and historical aspects of past cultures. It will serve as a forum for the discussion of new analytical techniques such as Nd isotope analysis and Laser Ablation ICP-MS, the application and interpretation of the data, and how to access analyses within UCL as well as elsewhere.

Topics of interest to the network are:

  • Identifying the raw materials of early glass and their places of origin
  • The reconstruction of glass production, distribution and trade
  • Investigating change in the technology and organisation of glass production
  • Evaluating the application of analytical methods on ancient glass such as pXRF, LA ICP-MS, Nd and Sr isotopes and contribute to the development of method and theory
  • Developing the application and interpretation of analytical data from theoretical and methodological perspectives

The EGTRN will organise conferences, seminars and events at UCL that will also sometimes involve colleagues from outside London/the UK. The aim is to make UCL a hub for glass research in London, bringing together researchers for talks and seminars, to share knowledge, techniques and data to further research into this field.

A web presence will be established that will advertise upcoming events and include a list of members and their research topics. A Facebook group will be created so that members of the research network are updated on newly published articles and forthcoming events and seminars.

In addition we have tentatively arranged with the Association for the History of Glass that the network will regularly contribute a section to its Newsletter.


  • Glass in imitation of other materials - 7 November 2016
  • Isotopic Investigation into the Raw Materials of Roman Glass Making - 24 November 2015

Conference 2014