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  • Technology
  • Glass in Egypt

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    Comparison Between Egyptian and Venetian Glass

    Criteria Egyptian Glass Venetian Glass
    Images photo of an Egyptian glass vase photo of Murano glass
    Manufacture - Old Kingdom - The world's earliest known glass consisted of small beads, amulets and pendants found in sites dating 2500 BC
    1. Melting a combination of soda and silica - the interaction of the heated soda and the hot sand formed a transparent flowing liquid that was cooled without shaping.
    2. Lapidary techniques were used cutting and grinding in the cold state of these small objects
    New Kingdom - In 1500 BC the craft emerged as an advanced industry and technologically arduous. Clear decolorized glassware and vessels were invented
    Manufacture consisted of the following stages:
    1. The raw material consisting of crushed quartz was grinded
    2. Melting in furnaces
    3. Core-forming technique - A core of mud in the shape of the vessel's interior was made. Then the core was submerged into the molten glass and leveled by rolling it on a flat stone. Pincers were used to shape the feet and rims of the vessels.
    4. Decoration - Glazed colored threads were applied to decorate the piece. These threads were pulled with a needle to form feather patterns which were rolled to imprint them into the glazed body while it was still soft
    5. The vessel was then placed into an oven. When cooled, the core was broken up and extracted through the opening of the vessel. It was difficult to remove the core in its entirety, specifically in narrow-necked vessel, the remnants of the core added opacity of these pieces, while those with broader necks appeared more translucent
    - Byzantine craftsmen influenced the development of Venetian glass in the island of Murano starting from the 13th century
    - The Italian city assumed the role of the glassmaking centre of the western world.
    - Lampworking technique - Silica is molten, and in the interval when the glass is soft before it hardens completely, the material is shaped
    - Glassblowing - forming the required shapes while the glass is molten using a blowpipe (a long thin metal tube). The tip of the blowpipe is preheated and dipped in the molten glass in the furnace where molten glass is 'gathered' on it. Then this glass is rolled on a flat slab of marble, forming a cool skin on the exterior of the molten glass. Then air is blown into the pipe, creating a bubble and shaping the glass.
    - Venetian glassmakers developed many technologies including crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo)
    Materials - Silica - quartz cobbles and sand
    - coloring agents - naturally occurring impurities or metal oxides.
    1. Cobalt - blue-tinted glass widely used
    2. Iron and antimony - yellow
    3. Copper - turquoise
    4. Manganese - purple
    Sophisticated and varied materials
    - Silica and limestone
    - Sodium oxide - slower solidification allowing the glassmakers more time to shape the material.
    - Quartz sand and potash - produce particularly pure crystals
    - Nitrate and arsenic - to eliminate bubbles
    - Copper and cobalt compounds - Aquamarine colors
    Colors - Tinted mainly in green and blue
    - Transparency known but rarely used since core forming technique left impurities on the internal walls of vessels
    - Large variety of colors including transparent, white, multicolored, aquamarine and ruby red
    Thickness - Thick walls with uneven thickness - Very thin homogeneous walls
    Use - A costly artificial semi-precious stone - limited production
    - Used as jewelry for royalty - little bottles, vases, goblets and bowls chiefly destined to hold cosmetics and perfumes of queens
    - trade industry - mass production and exporting to all Europe
    - City kept an eye on this main asset, ensuring that no glassmaking skills or secrets were stolen by foreigners
    Glass Makers - Thutmose 3 brought glassmakers to Egypt as prisoners following a successful military campaign in Asia.
    - Glassmakers were common craftsmen with no extra privileges and worked in harsh conditions
    - Importance of glass industry - number of craftsmen more than 8,000.
    - Glassmakers were prominent citizens, they were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state and married into Venice's most affluent families
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