Did The Romans Recycle?



Did The Romans Recycle?

Description: We all know the Romans liked wine, but what happened to all the smashed glass when the party was over? Dr Victoria Sainsbury tells the story of what the Romans did with all their broken glass, and why archaeologists care about recycling. Listen to the podcast here


Further Reading:

For a brief history of glassmaking:

Tait, Hugh. (2012) 5000 Years of Glass. Second ed. London, British Museum Press

Whitehouse, David. (2012) Glass : A Short History. London/Corning, N.Y., British Museum Press/ Corning Museum of Glass.

35 Centuries of Glass Making, Corning Museum (Digital Collections Hightlights)


For recycling in the past:

Sainsbury, et al (forthcoming) ‘Mutable objects, places and chronologies’ in Antiquity.

Sainsbury, V. (2018). When things stopped travelling: Recycling and the glass industry in Britain from the first to fifth century CE. In Rosenow D., Phelps M., Meek A., & Freestone I. (Eds.), Things that Travelled: Mediterranean Glass in the First Millennium AD (pp. 324-345). London: UCL Press. (Free online access)


Chemistry of Roman and Early Medieval Glass:

Rehren, T., & Freestone, I. C. (2015). Ancient glass: from kaleidoscope to crystal ball. Journal of Archaeological Science, 56, 233-241.

Degryse, P., & Shortland, A. J. (2020). Interpreting elements and isotopes in glass: A review. Archaeometry.

Keller, D., Price, J., & Jackson, C. (Eds.). (2014). Neighbours and Successors of Rome: Traditions of Glass Production and use in Europe and the Middle East in the Later 1st Millennium AD. Oxbow Books. (A collection of essays)

Bayley, J., Freestone, I., & Jackson, C. (Eds.). (2015). Glass of the Roman world. Oxbow Books. (A collection of essays)