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The Glass Beakers of hte Eleventh-Century Serçe Limani Shipwreck -- A Preliminary Study

Joy Joan Kitson-Mimmack
Thesis: August 1988
Chair: Bass
Nautical Archaeology Program


The Serçe Limani shipwreck, the so-called Glass Wreck, was excavated off the southwestern coast of Turkey between 1977 and 1979 by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Glass constitutes the bulk of preserved material from the cargo. The truncated-cone and shortcylindrical beaker shapes are two of the more than 200 vessel shapes in the entire glass collection. The beaker assemblage is composed of approximately 1200 vessels, including one of the best preserved and most aesthetic vessels in the entire collection, the "Lion Tumbler." This thesis will present the preliminary findings of a postexcavation study of the beaker assemblage. The study entailed an artifact analysis and data-collecting phase, examinations of other glass collections, and extensive library research. Primarily a mensurative and descriptive catalog of 95 of the best-preserved and most significant beaker vessels and pieces, this paper is a comparative study of the iconography and style of the engraved decorations, the quality of engraving work, colors, and glass quality. The relationship of the Serge Limani beakers to each other, to other vessels in the collection, and to glass vessels of the Classical Islamic Period are investigated. The most important attribute of the glass is that it can be firmly dated to the latter part of the third decade of the eleventh century C.E., a period for which well-dated glass v~ssels from the Mediterranean littoral are scarce and knowledge of the Islamic glass industry is meager. Thus, the study of this large and securely dated collection of glassware, to which the present thesis contributes, will be of considerable value to Islamic glass studies.


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