Ancient Glass



Glass has been one of the materials that have arisen the highest fascination in me. While the origin of glass is lost in the mists of history, the legend transmitted by Pliny the Elder says how the invention of glass happened on the sandy shores of Phoenicia, near the Hadr Alu river, when some ancient mariners used chunks of soda to support their kettles on the beach. After they had removed their kettles and their pots, they saw what Pliny calls “a noble, shining, semifluid substance”: glass.


Glass has fantastic qualities: it absorbs, transmits, reflects, and radiates the light. It is therefore a unique material as it has the ability to become almost ’soaked’ in light. We can still be fascinated today by these ancient vessels: their elegance, fragility, and the iridescence often associated with archaeological glass, render them objects of extraordinary beauty and interest. To our society in the 21st century, when glass is a common feature in our daily lives, it may seem extraordinary how immensely valuable glass was in antiquity: difficult to produce, difficult to decorate, difficult to transport, for a long period it was associated only with the elites.


Furthermore, glass embodies also one of the most strong and profound instincts in human soul: the constant tendency to evolve, improve, refine. Across this catalogue you’ll read about different technologies for the production of glass. They account of the mastership and ability of extraordinary yet anonymous craftsmen, people whose existence would be completely lost in the mists of history if the products of their genius had not survived.


We hope that these artefacts will be of interest to you as much as they have been to me.


Fayez Barakat