The Analysis of Late Bronze Age Glass from Nuzi and the Question of the Origin of Glass-Making

A. J. Shortland*, S. Kirk, K. Eremin, P. Degryse, M. Walton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This paper re-analyses a considerable corpus of glass from the Late Bronze Age site of Nuzi, found near Kirkuk in Iraq. SEM–WDS and Sr and Nd isotopic analysis were applied, in addition to cataloguing the glass. The work showed that the glass technology at Nuzi was subtly different from contemporary Egyptian sites, using different ways of opacifying and working glass. At least two, perhaps three, Near Eastern production sites are postulated. The range of glass colours and the skill of their application at Nuzi was perhaps not on a par with the Egyptian sites. This led to a reconsideration and review of the accepted wisdom that the Near East is the source of the innovation that is glass-making. This opinion is based on limited textual and iconographic sources and is dominated by an erroneous early date for a very developed Nuzi glass industry along with a few finds of glass vessels in early contexts. Some of this evidence has now been at least questioned, suggesting that glass-making in Egypt, at least as early as the middle of the 15th century bc, and probably earlier, is no later than that in the Near East. It is argued that it is far from clear that the Near East was the source of the innovation and that a more cautious approach would better fit the evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-783
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Late Bronze Age
  • Near East
  • Nuzi
  • glass
  • isotopic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Archaeology


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