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Wednesday, April 22 • 10:05am - 10:25am
An Ethnochemical Analysis: Red Glass Beads from the Eastern Region of Ghana

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Using a variety of spectroscopic methods, elemental components and coloring agents in recycled translucent red glass beads and red powdered glass beads from the Eastern Region of Ghana were investigated. Beads are central to Ghanaian culture relating messages of ancestral roots, social stature, and even emotion. The evolution of bead-making in Ghana was evaluated from an ethnochemical perspective by interviewing a series of experts, examining and collecting glass materials, and recording the conditions under which the beads were produced. Cadmium sulfur/selenium compounds were prominently used in the industrial manufacturing of red glass; however, they have been outlawed in most countries during the last three decades due to their high toxicity to humans and the environment. Conversely, the traditional red glass colorants, copper and gold are safe for human use; but, they are more expensive and require extensive, accurate heating processes, making them inconvenient for mass production. Combination of spectroscopic methods allowed for extensive qualitative and some quantitative analysis of the network formers, modifiers, and colorants used in red glass beads from Ghana. Instrumental methods include: powder X-ray diffraction spectroscopy (PXD), atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS), and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDX). High resolution imaging on the SEM allowed for extensive analysis of furnace conditions and structural information regarding the bead’s surface.


Wednesday April 22, 2015 10:05am - 10:25am PDT
123 Zeis Hall