Characterization of 18th Century French Glass from Saint-Nicolas-des-Biefs, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France : Chemistry and Infrared Spectroscopy
Anderson, Jackelyn R.
Ihinger, Phillip D.
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Glass beads manufactured in Europe were brought to North America and used in trade with native American peoples. The style and composition of glass beads can be used to trace intercontinental connections between the 16th and 20th centuries. To date, no connections have been made between beads recovered in North America and their site of manufacture in France. Here, we characterize a series of distinctly blue 18th century glass artifacts provided by the Musèe du Verrier in Saint-Nicolas-des-Biefs, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France to characterize their chemical composition. We use x-ray spectroscopy to quantify their major and trace element composition and Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy to characterize the total water and hydroxyl speciation of the glass. The amount of water incorporated inside the glass is a direct measure of the humidity level that was present within the furnace when it was formed, and the speciation can be used to determine how quickly the glass cooled when it was quenched. Both sets of chemical information are potentially useful for pinning down the precise location of manufacture in Europe. We compare our measurements with those of blue-colored glass artifacts collected at Ft. Mackinac, an 18th century French trading post located in northern Michigan.
Glass beads – France
Department of Geology
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