When glass matters. Studies in the History of Science and Art from Graeco-Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Era (2024)

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Ancient Glass in a Philological Context

E. Marianne Stern

Abstract This contribution aims to reach linguists and lexicographers as well as generalists and scholars concerned with editing, commenting on, and translating Greek and Latin texts mentioning glass. The article takes the form of eleven stand-alone numbered sections, each addressing individual passages in ancient authors, in the order described below, followed by discussions of the Greek words for glass (kua nos, lithos (khute), hualos). In particular, it proposes solutions to passages that have baffled editors of ancient texts (Hdt. 3.24; POxy. 3536); it alerts the reader to pas sages that have been reinterpreted in the light of advances in our understanding of ancient production techniques (Petr. Sat. 51; Plin. Nat. 36.193; Str. 16.2.25) or are placed in a novel context by recent archaeological research (Ar. Ach. 72-3; Ar. Nu. 768; Ath. 5.199f; Diocletian's Price Edict 16.1-9). In order to facilitate con sultation and avoid unnecessary repetition, each section addresses one single issue while providing comprehensive background for that issue. An index of citations and Greek and Latin words guides the reader to all sections in which they are discussed; a second index lists subjects relating to ancient glass and (modern) glass terminology. Keywords glass (-working), lexicography, vitrum, icuavo?, ?i&o? (x^tti), iSa?o?

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Jackson, C.M., Price, J. and Lemke, C. 2009. Glass production in the 1st century A.D. Insights into glass technology. Annales du 17e Congrès de l’Association Internationale pour l’Histoire du Verre (Antwerp 2006), 150-156.

Caroline Jackson

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Journal of Archaeological Science 56

Research over the last few decades has greatly enhanced our understanding of the production and distribution of glass across time and space, resulting in an almost kaleidoscopically colourful and complex picture. We now recognise several major ‘families’ of glass composition, including plant-ash based glass in Late Bronze Age Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the Islamic World; mineral natron glass in the Greek, Roman and Byzantine Empires; mineral-based lead- and lead-barium glass in Han period China and medieval Europe; and wood-ash and ash-lime glass in medieval Europe. Other glass groups include a peculiar granite-based glass in medieval Nigeria, and probably mineral-based glass in Bronze Age southern Europe. However, despite two centuries of research, we know very little about the actual production locations and technologies for most of these glass groups, and how and where glass making was invented. The early literature reflects the comparatively limited number of individuals and research groups working on glass; only recently there is a significant broadening of the research community and expansion and refinement of the data base. This enables us now to take stock of our current understanding and identify major lacunae and areas where additional work may make the most significant contributions to our understanding of the complex picture. Hopefully this will help moving from the traditional descriptive and often fragmented opportunistic data-gathering phase (asking ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’) to a more interpretative period looking with fresh eyes at the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of compositional and technical developments. This opening of the research field includes addressing the relationship of the different glass industries to the societies that used glass, and how they organised its production and distribution. A major overarching issue remains the question of the initial invention of glass, and how the idea as well as the material itself spread. Major debates should ask whether there were multiple inventions of glass making; how best to identify and interpret long-distance trade; how to ensure data compatibility and quality; and how to integrate different types of data, from archaeology through craftsmanship and typology to chemistry and optical properties.

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The Impact of Glassblowing on the Early-Roman Glass Industry (circa 50 B.C. – A.D. 79)

Jonathan Prior

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ancient glass was frequently treated as though it was a prestigious product, owned only by the elites of society. Research was primarily art-historical, and focused on select museum pieces. As archaeology developed, it became clear that glass vessels were used at many, if not most, Roman sites, from the late first century B.C. onward, and in many different social contexts, contradicting the idea that only the rich could afford them. Scholars began to explain the increased prevalence of glass by arguing that the invention of glassblowing (circa 50 B.C.) had increased production speed while lowering production costs, making glass vessels cheap and widely available across the social spectrum This thesis explores the role of blown glass by comparing the percentages and forms produced by older casting techniques in glass vessel assemblages from military sites, civilian sites, frontier settlements, and settings at the heart of the Roman world. It seeks to understand the social and economic status of blown glass and cast glass: why did cast glass persist after the invention of cheaper blown glass? Was cast and blown glass equally accessible to different levels of society? And to what extent can the invention of glassblowing bear responsibility for the rise in glass vessel use in the Roman world? By drawing comparisons between vessels from different production methods, and from different social and geographical contexts, this thesis begins to identify emerging patterns in glass use across Roman society and finds that both cast and blown vessels were used across all levels of society and that there was no strict divide between the use of casting for luxury wares and glassblowing for cheap utilitarian wares.

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Glass News 14: pp. 3-5

On the Technological Origins of Glass-Part 1: Evolution from Metallurgical Processes, by Kalliopi Nikita

2003 •

Kalliopi Nikita

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Glass of the Roman World

2015 •

Justine Bayley

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Metropolitan Museum Journal

Ennion, Master of Roman Glass: Further Thoughts

2015 •

Chris S Lightfoot

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Künstlichen Stein zum durchsichtigen Massenprodukt / From artificial stone to translucent mass-product. Editors: Klimscha, F., Karlsen, H. J., Hansen, S., Renn, J.: Berlin Studies of the Ancient World 67, Edition TOPOI, 245-263

Glass Production in the First Millennium CE: A Compositional Perspective

2021 •

Ian Freestone

The author discusses long term-trends in glass production during the 1st millennium CE. The systematic application of scientific methods on archaeological finds demonstrates the complexity of glass production and the trade networks in glass products. Due to the limited availability of natron nearly all glass originated from Egypt and Syria-Palestine from where raw glass was distributed to secondary workshops across Eu-rope and the Near East. This mode of production remained mostly constant during Antiquity and the early Middle Ages but a long-term decline in the availability of natron led to the restructuring of production from the 9th century onwards. Der Autor bespricht Langzeittrends der Glasherstellung im 1. Jahrtausend n. Chr. Die systematische Anwendung naturwis-senschaftlicher Methoden auf archäologische Funde wird be-nutzt um die Komplexität der Produktionsketten und Han-delsnetzwerke von Glasobjekten aufzuzeigen. Wegen der be-schränkten Verfügbarkeit von Natron wird sämtliches Roh-glas aus Ägypten und der Levante in europäische Glasverar-beitungsplätze gebracht. Dieses Netzwerk bleibt während der Antike und dem Frühen Mittelalter konstant, wird aber seit dem 9. Jahrhundert strukturell anders ausgerichtet.

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The archaeometry of ancient glassmaking: reconstructing ancient technology and the trade of raw materials

2014 •

Rebecca Scott, Dieter Brems

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Scientific and technological use of glass in Graeco Roman world

Giovanni Di Pasquale

Blown transparent glass produced a social revolution in Antiquity, not only in daily life, but for the advancement of scientific and technological knowledge too. Transparent glass became the leading material to have new studies in optics, astronomy, anatomy, mechanics and alchemy. Big glass panels could cover the windows of the houses in the Roman world, becoming a revolutionary new technical solution for architects too.

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When glass matters. Studies in the History of Science and Art from Graeco-Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Era (2024)
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