Natural glass is believed to have existed ever since the beginning of existence. Obsidian was a crude form of natural glass, which was used by Stone Age societies to make tools for cutting. Obsidian had a volcanic origin and was also known by other names such ashyalopsite, Iceland agate, or mountain mahogany and tektites. However, with the passage of time glass-making technology underwent revolutionary changes and other uses of glass also evolved. Archaeologists have discovered various glass types in parts of Europe and Asia, which have greatly helped to trace the history of glass. Read on to find interesting information on the background of glass.
Interesting And Amazing Information On The Origin & Background Of Glass
Naturally occurring glass had been used during the Stone Age to produce sharp cutting tools. It was also extensively traded in earlier times as there were few sources of naturally occurring glass. However, archaeological evidence puts forward that the first true glass was made in coastal north Syria, Mesopotamia or Old Kingdom Egypt. Beads were the earliest known glass objects, found in the mid-third millennium BC. The glass-making technology evolved significantly during the Late Bronze Age in Egypt. Glass ingots, vessels and the ubiquitous beads have been found by Archaeologists from this period. Soda ash and sodium carbonate were used to make the alkali of Syrian and Egyptian glass.
The earliest vessels made of glass were 'core-wound', which were made by winding a ductile glass rope around a shaped core of sand and clay, over a metal rod. Thereafter, threads of different colored thin glass, made from admixtures of oxides, were wound around the vessels to create patterns. To press the decorative threads into the body, the vessels were rolled on a slab. The handles and feet to the vessels were applied separately. Later the metal rod was allowed to cool down as the glass gradually annealed, and finally removed from the centre of the vessel. This was followed by scraping out the core material.
Western Asia, Crete and Egypt were extensively producing glass by the 15th century BC. This was the time when the glass fusing technology was a technological secret, not known to glass workers in other areas who relied on imports of pre-formed glass, mostly in the form of cast ingots.In the 9th century, techniques for making colored glass were discovered in Syria and Cyprus. In Egypt, glass-making underwent a revival in the times of Ptolemaic Alexandria, after passing through a hiatus owing to the disasters that marred the Late Bronze Age civilizations. Other techniques for glass making were also discovered, even as core-formed vessels and beads were still being produced widely.
Many new glass production techniques were discovered during the Hellenistic period. Larger pieces of glass were being made during this period, such as table wares. A new technique introduced in this period included 'slumping' viscous glass over a mould to form a dish. A 'millefiori' technique involved slicing canes of multi-colored glass and fusing them in a mould for a mosaic-like effect. Colorless or decorated glass methods were also deeply investigated in this period. It is believed that Phoenician traders were the first ones to find glass manufacturing techniques, at the site of the Belus River.
Glass blowing was discovered in the first century B.C, on the Syro-Palestinian coast. This discovery not just revolutionized but also galvanized the glass production industry. Extensive glass production followed all though the Roman world. With the discovery of clear glass, Romans began to use glass for architectural purposes. In the next 1,000 years,glass making and manufacturing continued unabated in Southern Europe and also spread in other parts of the world. Sir Alastair Pilkington introduced the float glass production method as late as the 1950s, which is used to manufacture 90% of flat glass today.