Ancient Stained Glass Manufacturing

ancient-stained-glass

The manufacturing of stained glass is an ancient technology which dates back so far that the ancient Egyptians knew how to do it 2000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Medieval Europe inherited this form of technology but did not invent it as is common belief. Deep, rich blue glass was very difficult to make and therefore needed to be imported from southern Italy. The deep blues which the Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France is so famous for can historically be traced through documentation to fragments coming from the Byzantine Empire as well as the Roman Empire. These imports were melted down and used to create new glass. Most colors and dyes came from the natural world in the forms of roots, berries, barks, leaves, minerals, and crushed insects, but the most prized colors were imported into Europe from the east, specifically India and China using Ottoman trade routes. The simple luck of geography made Venice, Italy an incredibly wealthy city as it acted as a nexus between the east and west. The blue hue referred to as “ultramarine” was the most expensive color to acquire and therefore it was almost always saved for depictions of the Virgin Mary, typically in her cloak or some other form of clothing, as Mary was depicted as the focal point of every painting she appeared within. Ultra Marine came from the mineral of lapis lazuli and when it was ground up into powder, some parts would inevitably become smaller than others which allowed these particles to reflect more light and provide a deeper, richer color to work with and appreciate. Vermillion Red was almost as precious as ultramarine, and has been used in Europe for hundreds of years in various illuminated manuscripts. Made from the mineral cinnabar, vermillion was adopted in places outside of Europe like meso-America for painting, India for bindi dots, and China to create lacquerware

Quartz Veins Filled With Gold

quartz-vein-gold

The California gold rush during the 1840’s caused hundreds of thousands of people to engage in mass migration. After any gold laying upon the surface had been excavated, miners dug into the ground to continue in their search. Miners surveyed for quartz veins as quartz virtually always meant that gold was nearby. Most gold sinks into the Earth’s core with other heavy metals like iron but occasionally, some gold remains with lighter minerals like quartz which is why gold can often be found imbedded inside of quartz. The reason gold nestles in with quartz is because earthquakes cause natural fissures to occur which provide pathways for superheated water containing minerals. This mineral packed water then cools down and the minerals carried within the flooded cracks left from the fissures, crystallize

Thermoluminescence Dating of Pottery

pottery

The dating of pottery artifacts can be accurately performed by using a technique referred to as “thermoluminescence”. Thermoluminescence involves taking a small sample of an artifact of pottery and heating it up using doses of high energy radiation which creates excited electron states in crystalline materials like pottery. In some materials, these electron states are trapped or arrested for extended periods of time by a localized defect, or imperfection. In terms of the quantum world, these states are stationary states which have no formal time dependence, however they are not stable energetically and when the material is heated it enables these trapped energy states to interact with photons to rapidly decay into lower energy states, causing the emission of photons in the process. The photons are measured and dependent of how many escape, a specified measurement of the total age can be determined. This technique can be used on most minerals and is the only method available to provide exact dating in respect to pottery as the results yielded do not have to be compared against a comparison artifact. Certain minerals store energy from the sun at a known rate and this energy is lodged in the imperfect lattices of a mineral’s crystals. Heating these crystals when creating pottery empties the stored energy reserves, after which time the mineral begins absorbing energy again. Thermoluminescence dating is a matter of comparing the current energy stored in a crystal to what should be there had not pottery not been heated during the creation process thereby establishing a “last heated during” marker or date