Cultural and historical studies of the glass finds from the late antique-medieval city quarter to the south of the Church of Mary in Ephesos

This dissertation project deals with the cultural and historical study of medieval glass objects. The glass finds from an urban residential and workshop area in Ephesos is at the center of the study. The contextual analysis of the find material permits a reconstruction of the use of glass in the medieval daily life and in residential buildings.

The study of late antique-medieval glass has long been neglected in Asia Minor and is therefore only at the beginning. Finds of glass used in buildings and as vessels will be analyzed according to functional, technological, typological, and socio-economic aspects. Based on the material analysis of the site Ephesos it will be possible to draw conclusions of regional and supra-regional significance.

Find material

The find material from the city quarter to the south of the Church of Mary was not sorted in advance so that a large quantity of material is available. The functional spectrum of the studied finds includes building glass in the form of window panes as well as glass vessels in the form of tableware, storage containers, and lighting fixtures. In addition to the large volume of window pane fragments, the spectrum of shapes of glass vessels also include cups, stemmed glasses, bowls, pouring vessels (bottles, pitchers), plates, unguentaria, and lamps. Finds of glass chunks and molten refuse are evidence of a glass workshop in a later period (phase of secondary use).


The classification of the material was carried out according to typological, technological, and functional aspects and is taking place with the aid of subject-specific literature. In order to determine the function, the find context is studied through the stratigraphy based on spatial analysis and allowing for various other find materials as well as the state of published scholarship. The material is stratified and can be attributed to specific rooms, even the original locations of the window panes can be determined. Analyses on the chemical composition of glass are being conducted in cooperation with J. Henderson (University of Nottingham) and are expected to provide information about the production technology as well as the origin, and the commercial value of the objects.

Research questions

An aim of the dissertation is the identification of specifics of the medieval table ware in contrast to that of the Roman imperial period. A comparison of the vessel shapes of glass with those of contemporary pottery will clarify whether the glass vessels complemented the shape spectrum or whether the same or similar shapes existed parallel in both material groups. The availability of glass, its changes in use from a luxury product to a product of everyday use will be explored and the development of glass shapes and their changing function over time will be examined. The functional and prestigious aspects in the use of window glass and the lighting conditions in the building will also be analyzed as well as the impact of technological innovations and modified production mechanisms on the use of glass. Further questions deal with workshop organization, transfer of technology, trade in raw materials and finished products, as well as the recycling of glass.