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Lines, spots and trails: a microscopic and mineralogical study of antimonate-opacified glass beads from Lofkënd, Albania

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This study focuses on a group of decorated glass beads (twelfth–tenth century BC), belonging to a larger assemblage that was excavated from the prehistoric burial tumulus at Lofkënd, Albania. The bulk glass, opaque glass decorations, and corroded areas were examined and analyzed using variable pressure-scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive spectroscopy (VP-SEM-EDS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The four glass beads analyzed were made using a plant ash-based alkali and colored with an iron containing chromophore which gave the glass its dark green color. Calcium antimonate was the predominant white opacifier used. Sodium antimonate was found as the opacifier in one sample. Its occurrence is likely accidental and formed due to a low concentration of calcium in the glass. Lead antimonate was identified in one sample and, along with calcium antimonate which was also present, would have acted as an opacifier for the white glass.

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