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Ancient glass making began in Egypt and the Mesopotamian region around 1500 B.C. Glass beads and inlays were even used on King Tutankhamen's mask. The earliest vessels were produced by forming melted glass on a clay core in the shape of the desired vessel. Hot threads of contrasting color were wrapped around the vessel, pressed, and combed to create a wavy pattern. The clay core was removed after cooling. The Augustan age of the Roman empire and invention of the blowpipe in Sidonian Phoenicia marked a turning point in glass production. Output could be increased a thousandfold with the introduction of new, exciting shapes. This technique quickly spread to Italy, and then throughout the empire. Roman glass was so popular that most Romans owned glass objects, and much has survived and is available today at reasonable prices.