The Savvy History of Glass
People had used naturally occurring glass, especially obsidian (the volcanic glass) before they learned how to make glass. Obsidian was used for the production of knives, arrowheads, jewelry and money.
The ancient Roman historian Pliny suggested that Phoenician merchants had made the first glass in the region of Syria around 5000 BC. But according to the archaeological evidence, the first man-made glass was in Eastern Mesopotamia and Egypt around 3500 BC, and the first glass vessels were created about 1500 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. For the next 300 years, the glass industry was increased rapidly and then declined. In Mesopotamia, it was revived in the 700 BC and Egypt in the 500s BC. For the next 500 years, Egypt, Syria and the other countries along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea were centers for glass manufacturing.
In the beginning, it was tough and slow to manufacture glass. Glass melting furnaces were small, a
d the heat they produced was hardly enough to melt glass. But in the 1st century BC, Syrian artisans invented the blowpipe. This revolutionary discovery made glass production easier, faster and cheaper. Glass production flourished in the Roman Empire and spread from Italy to all countries under its rule. In 1000 AD the Egyptian city of Alexandria was the most vital center of glass manufacturing. Throughout Europe, the amazing art of making stained-glass on churches and cathedrals across the continent reached its height in the most exquisite Chartres and Canterbury cathedral windows produced in the 13th and 14th centuries.Glass History
The first glass known to stone age people, which was used for making weapons and decorative objects, was obsidian, black volcanic glass. The earliest known man-made glass dates to around 3500 BC, with finds in Egypt and Eastern Mesopotamia. Discovery of glassblowing around 1st century BC was a breakthrough in glass making.
Glass was first made in the ancient world, but little is known about man’s first efforts to make glass. Amulets and solid beads were made in Mesopotamia as far back as 2500 BC. Later, glass making expanded in Egypt around 1500 BC.
Wonder how glass is made? Its ingredients? How many types of glass exist? Read about glass making process and related information in this section and our blog.
Glass Manufacturing History
By the time of Crusades, glass manufacturing developed in Venice, and it became glassmaking center of the western world. In 1291 glassmaking equipment was transferred to the island of Murano. During the 15th century, Venetian glass blower, Angelo Barovier, created Cristallo, a nearly colorless, transparent glass. By the late 1500s, many Venetians went to northern Europe seeking a better life where they established factories and brought the art of Venetian glassblowing.
By 1575, English glassmakers were making glass in Venetian fashion. In 1674, an English glassmaker George Ravenscroft invented lead glass.
The first glass factory in the United States emerged in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608.
In the early 1800s, there was a high demand for window glass which was called crown glass. In the 1820s, the age of blowing individual bottles, glasses and flasks ended with the invention of the hand-operated machine. In the 1870s, the first semi-automatic bottle machine was introduced.
After 1890, glass use, development and manufacturing began to increase rapidly. Machinery developed for precise, continuous building of a host of products. In 1902, Irving W. Colburn invented the sheet glass drawing machine which made possible the mass production of window glass. In 1904, the American engineer Michael Owens patented automatic bottle blowing machine.
In 1959 new revolutionary float glass production was introduced by Sir Alastair Pilkington by which 90 percent of flat glass is manufactured today.