When, Where, And How Glass Came To Be

Below is reading text taken from Testing Reading power. It is about how and when glass came to be. Given the wonderful information it could provide us about one of the most useful materials we have been using for ages - glass,  it is rather tempting to share this article with the world. No copyright intended. This is solely for educational purpose only.
glassmaking techniques
Have you ever asked yourself when glass came to be? We consider glass as one of the wonders of civilization, but because we see it often, we usually take it for granted. Glass in our windows today is so well made that we never stop to think that it is there. We notice it only when we look through it to see the objects beyond.

sand of the beach

No one knows when, where, and how glass came about but somebody somewhere happened upon the process of making glass. This somebody found that by melting sand and sodium salt together, a curiously new and different substance could be obtained. Pliny, and old Roman writer, told a story that glass was first made by some Tyrian sailors on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, although others considered this only a legend. The sailors, as the story goes, landed and prepared to cook their food. They propped up their kettles with rocks. When they put out the fire, they discovered that the sand of the beach had melted with sodium rock and formed a transparent substance - it was the first glass. These were used to embellish objects made of other materials.
18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt

The first objects produced entirely of glass appeared during the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt between 150 and 1358 B.C. These objects, mostly glass vessels, were made by applying a layer of molten glass over a fragile core. After the glass had hardened, the core was removed. Similar glass vessels were produced in Mesopotamia at about the same time so that some authorities believe that glass-making techniques originated in Mesopotamia. Molded glass and cutglass items were made there in the 7th and 8th centuries B.C. Afterwards, a major glass industry developed in the Near East and on the Eastern Mediterranean coast.

The technique of glassblowing was developed in Phoenicia in the last years of the 1st century B.C. This made possible new commercial applications of glass and resulted in the creation of magnificently decorated pieces of high quality. By the end of the 1st century A.D., many of the techniques now used in glassmaking had already been invented. It was at about this time that window glass was first used and that the carving of glass cameos was perfected in the Roman Empire. By this time also, glass was being produced in some parts of the Roman Empire as in England, France, Germany and Spain.

In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., after the decline of the Western Roman Empire, the craft of glassmaking also waned in the West. However, the industry continued to thrive in the Near East and in Islamic Lands. There was a revival of glassmaking in Europe by the middle of the 12th century with the development of stained-glass windows for cathedrals and monasteries. However, a flourishing glass industry did not develop in Europe until the end of the 13th century when Venice become a major glassmaking center. By the 16th century, Venice had attained a dominant position in Europe's glass industry. Venetian glass was noted for the brilliance of its materials and its light, imaginative forms.

The ability of lead glass to bend light rays at different angles made lenses for eyeglasses, microscopes and telescopes possible. This was discovered by the Englishman, George Ravenscroft late in the 17th century. The 17th century also opened the glass manufacture in the United States. Constant improvements had since then been made in the mechanical methods used to form and decorate glass.

Many things around us are made of glass. They are even made into glass blocks of different colors used as walls, partitions, and parts of wall decors. Whenever we see an object made of glass, we do not have to wonder anymore for we now have a knowledge of the when and the where and a little bit of the how of glassmaking.


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