School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Chloe Duckworth

Lecturer in Archaeological Materials Sci


I am a broadly trained archaeologist, specialising in the scientific analysis of archaeological materials, particularly vitreous materials (glass and ceramic glazes). 

After studying archaeology at BA level, I was awarded AHRC funding to undertake an MSc in Archaeological Materials, and later a PhD at the University of Nottingham. The latter focused on the chemical analysis and materiality of the earliest glasses, from the Late Bronze Age to the Roman period, and pioneered the application of novel analytical techniques in the field. In the period following award of my PhD, I was engaged as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Nottingham, responsible for convening and teaching a number of modules (both lecture-based and practical-oriented) for under- and post-graduate students.

I went on to develop an interest in Late Antique and Islamic pyrotechnology and technological interaction, and established an interdisciplinary research project and network (The al-Andalus Glass Project) exploring glasses and glazed ceramics from the Muslim and Christian periods in the Iberian Peninsula. This project has now extended into three separate projects looking more broadly at the technological know-how of people in medieval Spain, two of which involve active components of fieldwork.

From 2014-15 I was employed as a Research Associate on the ERC-funded 'Trans-SAHARA Project', University of Leicester, in which my role was to chemically analyse imported Roman glass vessels, and locally-produced glasses including beads and bangles, in the Sahara Desert and its environs.

In addition to lecturing, I currently hold a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship, in which capacity I am combining 'big data' analysis with experimental archaeology, in order to examine and attempt to quantify glass recycling in the first millennium AD. I continue to co-direct the geophysical and geochemical survey of the 10th century madina of Madinat al-Zahra, Spain, and excavation of the production zones associated with the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.


The History and Archaeology of Glass

I offer a Stage 2 undergraduate module - 'Glass Matters' - which is all about the fascinating history and archaeology of glass. Glass lenses and windows are indispensable to us today, and glass fibres are at the core of today's high speed global communications systems ... But did you know that the earliest glasses looked more like semi-precious stones? That the Romans had a massive glass recycling trade? Or that glass beads are intimately connected with colonialism?

The module takes a series of case studies of the production and use of glass in different periods, and asks a whole range of questions from many different perspectives, focusing on the people behind this most fascinating of materials. We also undertake practical classes, go on field trips to watch glassblowing in action, have a go at making glass beads, and develop critical skills in group work.

The Archaeology of Islamic Spain

My research on the archaeology of Islamic Spain includes an active programme of fieldwork, with opportunities to excavate at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Alhambra, in Granada, Spain. This year's students found themselves featuring in the local and national news in Spain.

Archaeological Science

Archaeological science (otherwise known as archaeometry) is often seen as a 'black box', out of which emerge un-questionable FACTS! In reality, it involves as much interpretation and human error as other areas of archaeology. 

I do not see this as a constraint; on the contrary, it is part of what makes our discipline so interesting and varied. In my teaching I aim to enable access to scientific research in a critical manner, empowering students to re-interpret and critically assess scientific publications, rather than simply taking them at face value. Even with a minimal toolkit, people of all backgrounds (science, arts, humanities) can access these issues and take them forward ... a skill which is equally useful when reading newspaper articles in everyday life, or making a choice of which product to buy. 

I currently contribute teaching on archaeological science to various undergraduate modules. 

I also produce a video blog, 'ArchaeoDuck', which is all about archaeology!


Current Research Projects

  • The Madinat al-Zahra Survey Project (funded by Society for Antiquaries, and the British Academy)

  • The Alhambra Royal Workshops Project (funded by the Patronato of the Alhambra and the Generalife)

  • Addressing the Invisible: Recycling, Glass and Technological Practice in the 1st Millennium AD (funded by the British Academy; conference in 2017 funded by the Oxford Roman Economy Project)

  • The al-Andalus Glass Project (funded by the Association for the History of Glass, and Fundacion Malaga)


Fieldwork in Southern Spain

Glass Mailing List

The Association for the History of Glass (AHG)

AHG Facebook

AHG Twitter

UISPP Commission on Archaeometry of Inorganic Artefacts