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Biography: Julian Henderson

Julian Henderson

Dr. Julian Henderson is studying the technology and provenance of glass cylinders from Chogha Zanbil, Iran, which were used to make decorative panels on doors at the ziggurat there. Chemical and isotopic techniques will be employed to determine the origin of the glass, whose corrosion and conservation will also be investigated.

The cylinders, which are dated to about the last three decades of the 14th century B.C., constitute what Dr. Henderson calls “one of the most important groups of Late Bronze Age glass found in Iran. The significance of this collection is its early date, the technology used to make the cylinders, and the large amount, with three boxes ... in Iranian museums alone.”

This will be the first comprehensive scientific study of the glass from this UNESCO World Heritage site. Dr. Henderson says the objectives of the study are: “to define the provenance of the glass, potentially providing the first proof of primary glass production in Late Bronze Age Iran; to investigate color specialization in the glass; to define the manufacturing technology of the cylinders; and to carry out a comprehensive investigation of the glass deterioration.”

The results of this research “may well provide evidence for a new production zone for Late Bronze Age glass—on the Iranian plateau,” Dr. Henderson explains. “This could therefore transform the study of Late Bronze Age glass in western Asia.”

Dr. Henderson says that he plans to build on the four analyses from this site published by Dr. Robert H. Brill, former research scientist at The Corning Museum of Glass, in 1999.

“Our trace element technique is more sensitive and will determine a much wider range of elements,” he said. “Analysis will reveal different ‘batches’ of glasses, including the base glass used to make white glass. If we are able to define the first evidence for primary glass production for second millennium BC Iran, it will help us to clarify related features of pyrotechnology in ancient western Asia, such as glazes used on bricks.”

Collaborating with Dr. Henderson on this project is Dr. Omid Oudbashi, an archaeologist and conservator at the Isfahan University of Art, Iran.

In addition to teaching in the United Kingdom, Dr. Henderson is (until 2018) a visiting professor at Northwest University in Xi’an, China. He is also the author or co-author of more than 300 publications. He is preparing reports on the archaeometric analysis of Hellenistic glass fragments from ancient Thesprotia, Greece; isotopic evidence for raw material use and glass recycling in the 17th century A.D.; and the scientific analysis of Hittite glass.