Scientists from University of Isfahan in Iran have analysed in the ALBA Synchrotron how were made ancient Iranian glass objects that date back to 2.500 BC. These decorative glass pieces were excavated from the ziggurat of Chogha-Zanbil, a type of stepped pyramidal monument, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Cerdanyola del Vallès, 24th January 2018   Ziggurats, the most distinct architectural feature of the Mesopotamian, are a type of massive stone structure built thousand years ago as a temple where deities lived. Nevertheless, Chogha-Zanbil, near Susa (Iran), is one of the few existent ziggurats found outside the Mesopotamian area. During ancient times Chogha-Zanbil was known as Dur Untaš, and may had been a sacred city of the Elamite Kingdom, an ancient Pre-Iranian civilization centred in the far West and Southwest of what is now modern-day Iran.

In order to determine the chemical composition of these unique samples, including one piece of ceramics and one piece of metallurgical crucible, a team of Iranian scientists came to ALBA Synchrotron to analyse them using X-Rays Powder Diffraction at the MSPD beamline. The MSPD analyses were carried out on more than 100 points on the glass objects. Synchrotron light enabled them to obtain high resolution diffraction patterns, from whose interpretation researchers have deduced the exact composition of the clay based structure as well as glassy part of the samples.

IM-IranianAncientGlass IM-IranianAncientGlass

Glass objects (left) that demonstrated their original usage at the walls and doors of the tempel Chogha-Zanbil (right). Mohammadamin Emami.

Researchers could find that this glass mainly contain calcite, cristobalite and gypsum. But the main question of this research focused on the glassy structure near the surface and the reason for the shiny effect of this material. They found that also Wollastonite and Zeolite A (a silver aluminium silicate dehydrated) were in the samples and they could be responsible for the shiny effect of the surface. This is the first time that this ancient glass from Chogha-Zanbil is studied from a chemical point of view. With this information, scientists will be able to know better the glass manufacturing process and reconstruct the technological expertise (know-how) of this ancient civilization.

This study has been developed within the framework of a collaboration agreement between ALBA and the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM). During the construction of the Iranian Light Source Facility (ILSF), ALBA is hosting scientists from Iran to receive trainings and perform experiments with the aim of exchanging knowledge in the area of particle accelerators and synchrotron light applications


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