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Durham e-Theses
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Form and function of central Italian medieval glass in the light of finds from the Benedictine Abbey of Farfa and the palazzo Vitelleschi at Tarquinia

Newby, Martine Sarah (1999) Form and function of central Italian medieval glass in the light of finds from the Benedictine Abbey of Farfa and the palazzo Vitelleschi at Tarquinia. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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The study of medieval vessel glass in Italy is a relatively new discipline. Very few intact pieces survive but archaeological excavations have begun to produce a considerable volume of fragments. Two such excavations in central Italy, at the Abbey of Farfa and the Palazzo Vitelleschi, Tarquinia, have provided the opportunity to examine broadly contemporary assemblages from high status ecclesiastic and secular contexts. Evidence from the medieval Italian iconographical record has also been considered. The wealth and variety of the glass from Tarquinia is unprecedented with circa 600 vessels present. From these pieces it has been possible to identify a much wider range of vessels than previously recognized and to suggest divisions between tablewares and utilitarian pieces used for storage, distillation and medical purposes. They also show, for the first time, that glass was used in large quantities during the later Middle Ages in central Italy and provide archaeological confirmation of the surviving inventories of glass- makers' stock. The finds from Farfa and Tarquinia, together with pieces found in churches in Rome and now preserved in the Museo Sacro of the Vatican, show that the same types of glass vessel were being used in high status domestic households and religious communities with the exception of hanging lamps which are found exclusively on ecclesiastical sites of whatever status. They also suggest a change in the pattern of glass production and consumption by demonstrating the move away from heavier and more elaborately-decorated pieces at the end of the 13th century, to mass-produced thin-walled mould-blown vessels by the end of the 14th century. This thesis is important because it has extended and amended the corpus of medieval glass known and will provide a firm foundation for future studies both in Italian medieval material culture and in the history of glass.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1999
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 15:48

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