Composition of Elamite Turquoise Glaze Identified

8/24/2005 9:17:30 PM

Archaeologists have managed to identify the composition of the turquoise glaze used on some ancient bricks of Tchoghazanbil ziggurat.

Tehran, 23 August 2005(CHN) -- Thanks to examinations and laboratory studies, archaeologists and experts have finally discovered the production method of turquoise glaze used on some glazed bricks found in Tchoghazanbil temple.

Being a temple tower formed as a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories, Tchoghazanbil is built in the architectural style known as ziggurat which was quite fashionable in ancient Babylonian, Assyria, and Elam. This temple, which is probably the most prominent heritage remained of Elamite era, was built during the reign of Untash Gal, the Elamite king who ruled the country 3200 years ago.

“In collaboration with Iran’s Geology Organization and Atomic Energy Organization, a new project was launched to study the composition of the glaze used on bricks of Tchoghzanbil, which finally resulted in identifying the method of making the turquoise glaze,” said Reza Vahidzadeh, an expert with the project of Tchoghazanbil and Hafttepeh.

47 glazed bricks of different colors, namely turquoise, white, and black have been discovered at Tchoghazanbil archaeological site so far.

Vahidzadeh added, “As studies show, just like today, Elamites of ancient times used copper oxide to make turquoise glaze. The evidence of producing copper oxide was previously discovered in ancient remains of slag and ancient smelting kilns.”

Experts believe that discovering the method of making glaze used on the ancient Elamite bricks will shed light on parts of the Elamites’ arts and industries.

Vahidzadeh indicated that studies are still continuing to decipher the composition of black and white glazes used in ancient Elam.

Baking procedure and the temperature at which these bricks were baked are other subjects of interest for archaeologists.

Right now, in a joint project, a team of Japanese and UNESCO experts are cooperating with Iranian officials for preservation and restoration of Tchoghazanbil.

Located in Khuzestan province, southwest of Iran, Tchoghazanbil ziggurat temple is one the most exquisite archaeological sites in the world which was registered on UNESCO list of world heritage in 1978. Of this once five-storey temple, now just two and half stories have survived.