Glass Artefacts and the Maritime Trade
Archaeological Glass from South China Sea Coast and HK Collection

Date:  2 Jun 2024 - 2 Jun 2024

Date: Sunday, 2 June 2024

Time: 2:00–4:30 p.m. 

Venue: G/F, Fung Ping Shan Building, University Museum and Art Gallery, HKU, 90 Bonham Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

Language: English 

Speaker: Dr. Kuan-wen Wang | Academia Sinica


Please click here to register. 


From around the 5th century BCE onwards, glass ornaments discovered at various archaeological sites around the South China Sea highlights their extensive use and exchange in ancient times. Excavations in regions such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Taiwan and southern China have uncovered these ornaments, predominantly in the form of beads and, to a lesser extent, bangles or earrings. The primary production of glass (from raw materials to glass) was often centralised in specific regions, leading to the emergence of regional glassmaking workshops where raw glass was produced and subsequently exchanged. The origins of the glass found around the South China Sea can be traced back to diverse sources, including China, South Asia, West Asia and the Mediterranean, highlighting the interconnectedness of the ancient world and the far-reaching extent of maritime trade routes.


Section 1: Introduce the raw materials used in glassmaking and discusses our current understanding of the exchange of glass around the South China Sea. Followed by the temporal and spatial distribution of glass composition around the South China Sea, their implication for cross-regional maritime exchange that connected East and Southeast Asia to the Mediterranean region will be explored, alongside archaeological evidence and historical accounts.


Section 2: Demonstration of LA-ICP-MS (Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry) and HH-XRF (Handheld X-Ray Fluorescence Analyser), focusing primarily on the comparison between instruments and their respective advantages and disadvantages in the elemental analysis of glass objects. This section provides a valuable opportunity to observe the collection of glass vessels at the University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG).

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