Glass - (Glass) Glossary of Antique Terms G

Glass - (Glass) A brittle lustrous substance made by fusing silica (sand) to which has been added a flux such as soda or potash. The main characteristics of glass are that in its molten state, when it is sticky like honey, it can be easily fashioned, it can be drawn out into threads as thin as a hair, it can be blown like a bubble, and it welds easily and inseparably. It is easy to colour. An Egyptian or Syrian invention, glass-making dates back to at least 2500 B.C.; it was valued at first because it could be made to approximate precious stones; vessels of considerable aesthetic appeal were made as early as 1500 s.c. The blow-pipe was invented during the first century B.C. The Romans made excellent glass in every part of their empire. In the Near East glass of a high artistic standard continued to be made throughout the 'dark ages'; there seems to have been a continuing tradition, too, in areas of northern Europe round the Rhine and the Seine. But the great revival in Europe was to take place at Venice and, to a lesser extent, at Altare, near Genoa. By the thirteenth century the Venetians were supreme, at first with coloured glass, then painted enamel glass, millefiori, aventurine, 'ice-glass', the superb cristallo, latticino.


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