Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean — 16.2004(2005)

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MAREA

EGYPT

GLASS FINDS FROM THE BASILICA
IN MAREA, 2004

Renata Kucharczyk

In the 2004 season, the excavations in the
Basilica area yielded a considerable assem-
blage of glass fragments, representing essen-
tially the same repertory of recorded shapes
as on many other church sites. Lamps con-
tinued to predominate, the most plentiful
being bowl-shaped lamps with stems for in-
sertion in polycandela. By contrast, lamps
with handles for suspension were less nume-
rous. Some wineglass feet, as well as frag-
ments of bottles of different kind and size
also appeared in the assemblage, as did frag-
ments of window glass. Nearly all the glass
is of bluish-green fabric, which is character-
istic of the Alexandrian region in Byzantine
and Early Islamic times. Other colors include
greenish-yellow, light blue, light green, light
amber. The glass was found very poorly pre-
served, often covered with a thick, black

weathering layer. The quantity of glass sherds,
their quality and workmanship lead to the
assumption that they were made on the spot,
as they are unlikely to have been traded far.
This hypothesis seems to be further upheld by
a malformed fragment of hollow-stem lamp.
The vessels were free blown, except for
one fragment of small toilet bottle blown in
a mold. The pontil scar, visible on the bases
of the solid stem lamps and wineglasses, is
sometimes prominent and shows that the
rims were reworked. Very few pieces are
decorated. Relief ornamentation is usually
simple, consisting of applied wound trails of
a darker green than the vessel, pinched pro-
trusions, a pattern executed in honeycomb
mold, holes and grooves on the lamp stems.
The material ranges in date from the 6th to
the 7th century AD.

LAMPS

Lamps used to illuminate the altars and
icons were again well represented among
the finds. The similarity in their appear-
ance is so striking that it might even suggest
manufacture not only by the same work-
shops, but even by the same hand. Poor
fabric and careless fashioning is distinctive.
In the manufacture of purely utilitarian
items, such as lamps, no special care was
deemed necessary. A significant number of

fragments was found in a room close to the
southwestern corner of the basilica together
with a large amount of coins which may
suggest shop stock.1 More than 30 solid
and hollowed stems, together with nume-
rous fragments of the rims attached to thin
side-walls, were recovered from the dig.
Of special note are lamps with solid stems,
which predominate in the material from
the Basilica [Fig. 1:1-7}.2 They differ from

1 For the archaeological report, see H. Szymanska, K. Babraj in this volume
2 Identified already in the past season, cf. R. Kucharczyk, "The glass finds from the Basilica in Marea, 2003 Season", PAM
XV, Reports 2003 (2004), 63-64 and Fig. 1.

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