Early ancient glass
Volcanic glass (Obsidian) is known fairly widely and probably comes from Anatolia or Armenia, during the Neolithic and Chalcolitic periods. Glazed objects were first made in the Near East in the 5th millennium BC. The glaze was applied as a powder on the surface of the object and this resulted in a self-glazing process, with this powder becoming vitrified by the fire. The first examples of man-made glass, however, date only to the last quarter of the 3rd millennium BC when glass beads were first made in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The first ancient glass vessels were made in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia and Egypt. These were made by moulding on a mud or sand core which was made in the shape of the desired vessel. Viscous glass was applied to this core. The surface of the vessel was then decorated with threads of coloured glass and teased into decorative patterns. The piece was then rolled on a flat surface and a handle and a base were added. The colours used in this early period suggest that the makers were trying to imitate precious stones such as lapis-lazuli and turquoise. The manufacture of glass vessels began at approximately the same time in Egypt and in northern Mesopotamia but it appears that the core technique was invented in Mesopotamia and introduced into Egypt later. The high- point of ancient Egyptian glass came in the El Amarna period (first half of the 14th century BC).
There was a decline in the standards of ancient glass making at the end of the New Kingdom in Egypt and in Mesopotamia, at the end of the Middle Assyrian period and it is only in the late 8th and 7th centuries BC that glass vessels are found again. Glass vessels formed around a core also reappear in this period in Mesopotamia.
Small amphoriskoi, aryballoi, alabastra and juglets were produced on a large scale from the 6th to the 4th century BC. The centre for this production seems for some while to have been on the island of Rhodes but Alexandria was the leading center of glass-making in the Hellenistic period.
Core formed ancient glass pieces are available to the serious collector, though they are fairly expensive. Do be aware that of all ancient glass which is faked, ancient core formed glass is faked the most! See REAL OR FAKE for more about fake ancient glass and other fake antiquities.
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