The research of Patrick Degryse is integrated within the section Geology and the Centre for Archaeological Sciences. It focuses on the archaeometry (mainly mineralogy and geochemistry) of ancient industrial minerals, ores and artefacts. Current research topics focus mainly on the raw materials and the production process of glass, natural building stones, metal and ceramics in the Hellenistic to Byzantine eastern Mediterranean. Techniques used include petrography and chemical analysis, including radiogenic isotopes.
Using newly developed isotopic analysis methods, the primary provenance of Greco-Roman glass can be investigated. It is clear from geological prospecting that suitable sands for natron glass making are rare. A limited number of glass factories in the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa were melting sand to glass in the Hellenistic period. In imperial – early Roman times, the origin of primary natron glass lies in the western as well as in the eastern Mediterranean and possibly in North Africa. Apparently, investments were made in several glass making units all over the Empire. Several north African flux sources are likely to have supplied flux for primary glass making. In late Roman – early Byzantine times, natron glass making falls back on glass making sites in the eastern Mediterranean, such as the factories known from excavations in Syro-Palestine. The discovery by scientific analysis of this phasing in glass making in the Hellenistic-Roman world, adjusts our knowledge of the history of glass, and our interpretation of the archaeological record. This aspect of the Roman economy can now be integrated in further studies of the Roman world.