6 December 2022 The Future is the Product of the Past

Medieval Islamic glass of Scottish Caerlaverock Castle reveals untold histories

Discovered by archaeologists at Caerlaverock Castle, eleven kilometers south of Dumfries on Scotland’s south coast, a trio of Islamic glass fragments inspired a collaborative community project to reveal the story of their origins and recreate the original object – a medieval Islamic glass drinking beaker.

The first and only glass of its kind to be found at an archaeological site in Scotland, it is believed that the original vessel would have been made in modern-day Syria, Iraq or Egypt during the 12th and 13th centuries, all of which were important centers of Islamic glassmaking.

The fragments are inscribed with part of the Arabic word for ‘eternal’, likely used as one of the 99 names of Allah, which suggests that it could be an extract from the Qur’an.

Although tiny in size – at 3.1cm x 2.8cm – the two fragments together are smaller than a ping pong ball and give clues to Scotland’s contact with the wider world during the medieval period.

Stefan Sagrott, Archaeologist and Senior Cultural Resources Advisor from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said: “Discovering Islamic glass from the 13th century in a Scottish castle, is an absolutely astounding find.”

Photo: HES

It’s a surprising discovery because, glass wasn’t commonly used at this time. During Scotland’s medieval period, glass was mainly used for stained glass windows in monasteries, cathedrals, and some smaller churches and chapels. However, the glass wouldn’t be used in castles and tower houses until centuries later.

The glass was very uncommon and frequently deteriorated in Scotland’s acidic soil. The fragments are once again in the spotlight as the centerpiece of a community project called Eternal Connections, which has sparked debate and learning about the history of Scotland’s Muslim communities, almost 25 years after they were first found.

Eternal Connections used cutting-edge scientific analysis and research data to forge new ways of understanding the contemporary and historic connections between Scotland.

Alice Martin, a Stirlingshire-based visual artist, researched contemporaneous medieval Islamic glass and collaborated with a team of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) experts who used cutting-edge techniques to analyze the fragments.

As a result, Martin was able to digitally reconstruct a 3D model of the beaker’s original shape using the glass fragments.  It has a vase-shaped form and a blue and gold line below the rim with Arabic writing on it and is also decorated with a golden fish.

Martin said: “Scientific analysis has shown there would once have been red and gold decoration, as well as the blue and white that’s still visible. This type of Islamic glass was thought to be valuable, it’s very precise and delicate.

Photo: HES

“From the scientific evidence, research, and known history, we thoroughly considered how an Islamic glass drinking beaker ended up in Scotland, and we suspect it may have come to Caerlaverock Castle through trade or could even have been brought back by returning crusaders.”

The project worked with community groups, including the Muslim Scouts in Edinburgh and the Glasgow-based AMINA – Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, to provide a series of informative workshops centered on the story of the Islamic glass.

The workshops focused on the beaker shape, decorative designs, and calligraphy using Arabic script and Gaelic onto 3D prints. Other elements focused on archaeology and demonstrated the technology used to analyze the glass fragments.

An interactive online experience has been created using the ThingLink platform to share the project outcomes which can be explored. Visitors can explore a Sketchfab 3D model of the artistic recreation and download a model to 3D print to paint their own version.

HES was awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Capability for Collections Fund to purchase the scientific and digital equipment used to analyze the glass fragments, as well as the Public Engagement Fund to carry out the Eternal Connections project.

Historic Environment Scotland

Cover Photo: Historic Environment Scotland

Banner
Related Post

4,000-year-old cylinder seal found in Blaundos excavations

29 September 2022

29 September 2022

A 4,000-year-old cylinder seal was found during the excavations of the ancient city of Blaundus (or Blaundos, as it is...

Ancient eggshell in the Northern Cape hiding 300,000 years of history

12 July 2021

12 July 2021

Evidence from an ancient eggshell has revealed important new information about the extreme climate change faced by human early ancestors....

Glacier archaeologists find a 1300-year-old arrow in melting ice

20 August 2022

20 August 2022

The Glacier archaeologists found a 1300-year-old arrow from the Norwegian Iron Age during a research project on the Langfonne ice...

The museum’s “Oscar” Awards had Received this Year by the Troy Museum and the Odunpazarı Modern Museum

11 May 2021

11 May 2021

At the European Museum of the Year Awards (EMYA) online ceremony on May 6, Turkey’s renowned Troy Museum and Odunpazar...

18,000 years ago, late Pleistocene humans may have hatched and raised the “World’s Most Dangerous Bird.”

2 October 2021

2 October 2021

Researchers say the eggshell is an understudied archaeological material that has the potential to clarify past interactions between humans and...

1.8-million-year-old ‘human tooth’ discovered in Georgia

9 September 2022

9 September 2022

An ancient human tooth discovered by archaeologists in Georgia dates back 1.8 million years, firmly establishing the area as the...

13,000-year-old Clovis campsite discovered in Michigan

10 September 2021

10 September 2021

In St. Joseph County, independent researcher Thomas Talbot and University of Michigan scholars uncovered a 13,000-year-old Clovis campsite, which is...

The rich-poor distinction draws attention in the nutrition of the inhabitants of the Ancient City of Pergamon

27 November 2021

27 November 2021

The hegemony of wealth to the poor, arising from the ruler, elite structure, property ownership, unjust acquisition, and distribution of...

Places to Visit in Oman

6 February 2021

6 February 2021

There are many places to visit in Oman. In this article, we wanted to talk about a wonderful country that...

Neanderthals too may have Developed a System of Numerical Notation

2 June 2021

2 June 2021

People developed numbers tens of thousands of years ago, according to archeological findings. Scholars are now investigating the first comprehensive...

Glazed Bricks with Bull and Dragon Motifs Discovered at Persepolis

17 December 2021

17 December 2021

A team of Iranian and Italian archaeologists recently unearthed some glazed bricks bearing bull and dragon motifs in the ancient...

Homo Sapiens are older than we previously thought

16 January 2022

16 January 2022

Researchers have discovered that Omo I skeletons, previously thought to be less than 200,000 years old, are 230,000 years old....

10,000-year-old Settlement Discovered in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa

25 June 2021

25 June 2021

A Neolithic settlement was discovered in the garden of a house in the Sayburç Neighborhood of Şanlıurfa’s Karaköprü district. News...

Researchers discover America’s oldest mine

23 May 2022

23 May 2022

Archaeological digs headed by Wyoming’s state archaeologist and including University of Wyoming experts have revealed that people began producing red...

The Big Universe Coming Out from the Dust “in Esna Temple”

7 February 2021

7 February 2021

While the Esna Temple has been waiting to renew and breathe again for a long time, it has recently experienced...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *