A Brief History of Glass

Brief History of Glass Banner

      There exists a wealth of technologies that we as humans have manipulated in order to advance as a society. How we got to where we are today has been the result of a sort of butterfly affect of innovations. The avant-garde’s of our history were able to perceive a change in our daily woes in order to propel us in the direction of a progressive civilization.

      The history of glass happens to be a remarkable tale of events. The result of the accidental forces of nature, oppressive influence, and the eagerness to expand and test the limits of one’s imagination; has placed us in a world of modern medicine and applied science.

      26 million years ago something extraordinary occurred that resulted in a substance that stretched up to ten kilometers across the Libyan desert. This substance now known as Libyan desert glass, was allegedly the result of a meteorite impacting and melting the vast layer of silica. The discovery of this type of glass was found as a part of King Tutankhamen’s pendant during the excavation of the pharaoh’s tomb in the 1920’s. It was valuable enough to be considered a gift or a piece of treasure for the ancient king and it’s value has been made evident as a gift to the human culture as well.

King Tut's Glass Pendant
King Tutankhamen’s Glass Pendant

      The value of glass is well-regarded for it’s countless uses and properties. The surge of creation and advancement of the relatively new inorganic material stems from the glass-makers of Murano, Italy. In 1291, the modern glass-makers of Venice were exiled to the island of Murano–just one mile from the city. The fear over potential fires from their workshops birthed a modernization of medicine and a better understanding of the world around us.

“In 1291 the modern glass-makers of
Venice were exiled to the island of Murano”

      This isle of glass created a competitive environment for the lamp-workers and within a couple hundred years clear glass was discovered by mixing manganese oxide ash with molten glass. The crystal like glass was appropriately given the name–Crystallo Glass– and with this new type of glass the invention of the glass lens was made possible. Italian glass-makers created these curved discs of clear glass and were able to produce the first spectacles. The direct result was a surge of interest for the production of books and access to information spread. This created a domino like affect of innovations which transcended the limits of our technology.

      These simple innovations are just some of the very few but prominent advancements we made as a society. Computer technology, fiber optics and the general wealth of information are all a factor of our manipulation of glass. The way we perceive the unknown universe that surrounds us is also a factor of our manipulation of glass with microscopes and telescopes. From Murano, Italy to the modern-day Murano– Corning, NY– we are truly indebted to the versatile technology.

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