Egyptian glass - Glass making in Egypt

It is still not known about man's first efforts to make glass. It is believed that the Egyptians were among the first to use glass in their art and culture. As far back as 2500 BC, amulets and solid glass beads were made in Mesopotamia. About 1000 years later, the Egyptians also began making glass. Glass is produced from a mixture of silica-sand, lime and soda.

Ancient Egyptianb Glass Vase

Pure glass as a separate material, in the form of translucent beads, came later in predynastic period. In the Old and Middle Kingdoms glass jewelry, amulets, little animal figures, mosaic stones and similar things were made.

The first glass vessels were made during the reign of Tuthmosis I in the New Kingdom. This innovation came to Egyptians probably due to their expansion in the Middle East.

Extensive glass manufacture in Egypt started in the beginning of the New Kingdom with the Eighteenth Dynasty (1550BC). Prior to that time, the Egyptians used glass primarily as a glaze for beads. The discovery of faience was the next step in the evolution of glass in Egypt. Faience was used before glass and it is a mixture of quartz sand and an alkaline substance covered by vitreous glaze which, once mixed, can then be molded, cast or even thrown on a wheel" (Battle 16). It is thought that the craft of glass making was first introduced full-scale into Egypt by glass makers captured by Thutmose II (1479-1425 BC).

Beside glass utilisation in amulets, beads and inlays, attempts were made to use it in more ambitious projects. In Ancient Egypt glass was made by method of core-forming and cold cutting. Core-forming which was an important glass making technique in Egypt had been adandoned due to the introduction of glass blowing technique during the Roman Era.

For the Ancient Egyptians glass was regarded as an artificial semi-precious stone and was a costly novelty material, most likely under the control of the royalty and given as presents to the favoured officials.

The production of glass declined after the 21st Dynasty (1096-945 BC) and it was revived during the 26th Dynasty (664-525 BC) but it continued on a much reduced scale.