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Preliminary Thermal Investigations of Calcium Antimonate Opacified White Glass Tesserae

Abstract : Calcium antimonate (in the hexagonal or cubic form) dispersed in the glass matrix is an artificially synthesized phase commonly documented as opacifier for white glasses during the Roman period. Glasses of this type occasionally contain variable amounts of lead oxide. There is no consensus about the origin and role of the lead component in white glasses, whether it was functional to modify the workability of the glass and/or to help the precipitation of the particles, or whether it was an unintentional pollutant introduced with the raw materials. A group of lead and lead-free white mosaic tesserae from the fourth-century CE villa of Noheda in Spain were analyzed by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and high temperature X-ray diffraction (HTXRD) to evaluate the impact of variable amounts of lead oxide in the precipitation of calcium antimonate on the viscosity of the glass. The analyzed glasses show thermal events that have been related to the composition of the glass via multicomponent linear regression model. CaSb 2 O 6 and Ca 2 Sb 2 O 7 formed in the glass during the cooling phase and the glass was not reheated. Lead oxide influences the thermal behavior of the glass, lowering the onset temperatures of all the events, implying a more cost-effective production process. We propose that lead was added intentionally or that lead-bearing raw materials were selected specifically by the ancient glass artisans.
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Cristina Boschetti, Cristina Leonelli, Roberto Rosa, Marcello Romagnoli, Miguel Angel Valero Tévar, et al.. Preliminary Thermal Investigations of Calcium Antimonate Opacified White Glass Tesserae. Heritage, MDPI, 2020, 3 (2), pp.549-560. ⟨10.3390/heritage3020032⟩. ⟨hal-02882263⟩

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