Glass is all around us in our daily lives. From windows to drinkware and store displays and skyscrapers our love affair with glass is prolific and spans the history of civilization. Archaeologist typically agree that glassmaking began between 3500 and 2500 BC. They have uncovered artisanal artefacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), and the Mediterranean seaboard that are both intricate and delicate, as well as being functional and attractive.
Obsidian Jewels and Roman Glass
The usage of glass is thought to have originated with volcanic glass, or obsidian. This extrusive rock has a glassy texture, and is usually, but not always, black in color. Other colors include orange, green and brown, and even rainbow when elements of mineral crystals are present. Highly valued for its workability, obsidian became an integral component in tool-making. It is still used in some surgical tools today but is more commonly found in jewelry.
Glassmaking has evolved in definitive spurts throughout recorded history. At its earliest inception, glass was handcrafted by melting silica powder and molding it into small trinkets known as faience. This process was painstaking and was performed by master glaziers and of great value in commerce. The invention of the blow-pipe around 50 BC in Syria revolutionized the glass making industry. As part of the Roman empire, this technique was perfected and spread to all parts of Imperial Rome and beyond.
Crystal Clear Impact on Civilizations.
Glassmakers have honed their craft through various technological advancements for thousands of years. Whether it’s the stunning imagery depicted in brightly colored stained glass, delicate tableware, medical tools, or energy efficient windows, glass can be found in almost all parts of the human experience. Artists have expressed themselves with glass in a plethora of ways. Architects use glass to enhance and create dwellings and provide a way to view the world outside those dwellings while safely inside.
Every Society Benefits from Glass
Advancements in the production of glass products continue today with stronger, more shatter resistant properties. Compare a window pane from a hundred years ago with a window today and their transparencies and consistency, and you’ll find today’s glass is more uniform in every way due to modern production methods. Such innovations as double paned pre-fabricated windows allow for energy savings and better protection from the elements.
Pretty, Practical, and other Oxymorons of Glass
Glass is an exceptionally unique substance. It’s both strong and delicate. It can protect and cause great harm and can be both opaque and translucent. There are tiny glass fragments that are microscopic in size, and buildings with massive display windows several stories high. Truly, there is something contradictory about glass. It’s a liquid frozen into an amorphous solid state that began as a collection of superheated grains of silica.
Our collective adoration of glass in all its forms and usages is evident in almost every location around the globe, making it a substance of universal importance. Clearly, glass has shaped and preserved our lives like nothing else ever has.