Who Invented Glass?

The earliest known “manual” on how to make glass, dates back to 650 BC. The manual is a compilation of several cuneiform tablets and it belonged to the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. The traces of the art of glass making can be traced back to Mesopotamia in 3500 BC. Natural glass, obsidian, was known to the humans before they learned to make glass. However, to pin down the person who was the first to produce glass artificially is next to an impossible task given the scarce historical records available.

A major breakthrough in glass production was the invention of the ‘glassblowing tube’ by the Syrian craftsmen between 27BC and 14AD. The glassblowing tube has undergone only minor changes since then. The Romans were the first to use glass for architectural purposes. In Roman times, cast glass windows could be found in a number of important buildings. The glass industry of the time suffered a set back with the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Invented GlassGlass industry began to take off again after 1000 AD. A dearth of raw materials pushed the Europeans craftsmen to use potash instead of soda ash. The art of making sheets of glass was developed in 14th century Germany; however, it was Venice which was the hub of glass making industry in Europe. Attempts were made to reduce the dependence on Venetian glass by various nations. George Ravenscroft, an English glassmaker, patented a new kind of glass in 1674. The French were also keen on improving their glass industry. They offered incentives like total exemption from taxes, French nationality etc to Venetian glassmakers coming to France.

The scientific inquiries into the nature of glass began in the 17th century. Otto Schott, Ernst Abbe, Friedrich Siemens are the most famous among scientists who made valuable contributions. Their research coupled with the technological advances made in the 18th, 19th and the 20th century resulted in the development of modern glass.

Category: Inventions, Technology

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