Sunday, March 8, 2015

Glass Making in the Ancient Middle East

     In the Metropolitan Museum there are a number of examples of glass work from ancient Egypt. I have occasionally wondered how the ancients actually made glass. Did they know glass blowing techniques like those in use today for handmade glass?

     I just found the answer in a book I am reading. The book is entitled From Egypt to Babylon and was written by Paul Collins. The technique he describes is a rather simple one. To make a glass vessel, the ancients would use quartz sand mixed with soda or potash and lime. The mixture would be heated to a very high temperature in a crucible. The glass could be colored by adding mineral oxides.

     Once the mixture had been melted, it was drawn into long trails and then coiled around an earthenware core. Once the glass cooled, the core was (very carefully) scraped out. The vessel was then polished.

     Simple, once you know how to do it!

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