Glass of The Islamic Period (11th Century AD)

Sparkles From The Deep

Glass of The Islamic Period (11th Century AD)

The most important collection of Islamic glassware is the one that was recovered from the Marmaris Serçe Limanı shipwreck and is on display in a special hall in The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. The artifacts, recovered during excavations in 1977-1979, indicate that the ship had embarked for the Black Sea from a port on the coast of Syria, before sinking for unknown reasons in Serçe Limanı.

The three tons of trading cargo included glass ingots, glass fragments and various types of glassware. There are at least 200 different types of glassware in this collection. The mold-cast glass sences (weights) imprinted with the names of the Fatimid Caliphs, provided documentation for the fact that the ship started its journey in the first half of the 11th century AD.

Glassware from the Serçe Limanı shipwreck is separated into four main groups. The first group is dinnerware, and includes large dinner plates, pitchers, fruit dishes, bowls, cups, and goblets. The second is containers for liquids, such as jars, bottles and demijohns. The third group consists of oil-lamps for lighting purposes. The final group is memorial items, such as perfume bottles, inkwells and pilgrims bottle.

Most of glass is thin-walled and made from clear, light and dark green, yellow, pink-beige and burgundy-colored glass by free-blowing or mold-blowing methods. The mold-blown glassware is mostly plates, bowls, and jars that featured a repeating diamond-shaped pattern baklava pattern, with a star motif in the center of each diamond. The free-blown glassware had cut-glass decorations; they were luxury items and were specially made. A new technique known as hot-cutting, was introduced during this period. Decorations were etched on the molten glass with a sharp edge. With this technique, raised relief scenes could be created, and more clear lines could be drawn. Motifs such as the lion and the fishbone were introduced, along with other designs that reflected the influence of the East and of Islam. The etchings of scenes from nature and architecture on pitchers and cups bring to mind the enchanting atmosphere of the Tales of the Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

The glassware, dinnerware, oil-lamps and gift bottles produced to meet the demands of the market and scraps were transported to workshops and stores along the Black Sea, in the towns and along the rivers.