Stained glass evidence of high living standards in Byzantine Bathonea

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Nearly 20,000 pieces of glass have been unearthed and evaluated amid excavations at the ancient site of Bathonea on the Küçükçekmece Lake Basin in Istanbul’s Avcılar district.

Stained glass evidence of high living standards in Byzantine Bathonea
Tesserae from Bathonea [Credit: DHA]

According to archaeologists, the glass findings reveal that locals in the area 1,500 years ago had high living standards, using strained glass in buildings as well as window glasses.

Excavations in Bathonea are currently being headed by Associate Professor Şengül Aydıngün from Kocaeli University’s Archaeology Department. The finds were evaluated this summer in laboratory, storage and analysis works.

An expert on ancient glass design and the history of glass, Şeniz Atik, the deputy head of excavations, said the excavations unearthed large basilica-like structures and 20,000 glass pieces were found in graves on the coast of Küçükçekmece Lake, as well as numbers of window glasses and golden-gilded mosaic pieces (tesserae).

“Most of the 20,000 glass pieces unearthed in previous years were the ones used in windows. It is remarkable that the region is rich in window glasses used in ancient structures and specially-made thin strained-glasses. These strained-glasses were used as panel and window glasses in important buildings,” Atik said.

“We also found lots of mosaic pieces, glass cups, candles, bowls and stemware. Most of the archaeological finds are in good quality. This is a proof that life standards were high here. Some glass bottles found in the region are different from the ones in Anatolia. Considering all this, we believe that some of these glasses were local and some were imported. All these findings are being examined in scrutiny. Since they are too small, they will first be classified and reunited. Then drawings will be made and then they will be defined. It takes a long time to carry out analyses and prepare a publication,” he added.

Important production center around Constantinople 

Atik, who recently released a publication about the glass pieces extracted in the excavations in Marmaray in Istanbul’s Yenikapı, said the Yenikapı finds were similar to the finds in Bathonea.

“This shows that there was an important production center in and around [[Constantinople]]. Because Yenikapı was a big port, some of the glasses in Bathonea were possibly imported from there. After the works on the findings are completed, the relations between Bathonea and Istanbul and other cities will be revealed. An important part of the findings are from between the 5th and 7th centuries. This field was also active in the later periods, especially in the 10th and 12th centuries. We also have findings from the late Ottoman period,” he said.

Speaking on the importance of specially-cut strained glasses and golden-gilded mosaic pieces, Atik said they drew the conclusion from the archaeological findings of glass from 5th and 7th centuries of Bathonea that living standards were very high.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [December 12, 2016]

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