The Role of Glass in Ancient Civilizations (Narrow Topic)

The innovations and changes brought about by ancient civilizations are so plentiful that it is easy to overlook the development of glass, a material ubiquitous in modern society. Glass, however, is indicative of the developments seen throughout ancient history.  Glass was discovered accidentally and independently amongst cultures far removed.  It served as a means of transferring wealth, thus affecting trade between civilizations. It requiredgreek glass specialized skills to craft.  Glass, also, transformed from a substance of little functional use to one that vastly changed human lives.  It is in these areas that a study on the history of glass and glass making will be useful, for on a small scale the material demonstrates the nature of technological development during ancient times.


Corradi, A., et al. “Ancient glass deterioration in mosaics of Pompeii.” Surface Engineering 21, no. 5/6 (October 2005): 402-405.

Diamond, Freda. The Story of Glass. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1953

A useful source in describing the nature of glass as stringed beads, molded forms, and also of the human learning experience involving glass blowing. The book also discusses glasses modern significance.  There are numerous photographs of both early and modern glass technology.

Dussubieux, L., Kusimba, C., Gogte, V., Kusimba, S., Gratuze, B., and Oka, R. “The Trading of Ancient Glass Beads: New Analytical Data from South Asian and East African Soda-Alumina Glass Beads” Archaeometry, 50, (January 2008): 797-821.

Macfarlane, Alan and Gerry Martin. Glass: A World History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002

A book that provides a useful description of the broad implications of glass materials through history. The source begins with a description of glass’s early formation by Egyptians and Mesopotamians and following its significance into the European renaissance and scientific revolution.

Rehren, Th., Freestone, I., “Ancient Glass: From Kaleidoscope to Crystal Ball”. Journal of archaeological science 56, (2015): 233-241

Sauzay, Alexandre. Wonders of Glass-Making in All Ages. New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Company, 1872

Daniel Lyons

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