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HISTORY OF GLASS MANUFACTURE: AN ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERY

Although it is not exactly clear when glass was manufactured for the first time, the first glass beads have been dated in Mesopotamia around the year 300 B.C. According to Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, natron (natural sodium carbonate) merchants accidentally discovered glass in Syria.
One day, on their way to Egypt, they used natron to rest their pots over the fires they made to cook on. The next day, they found that the natron had melted and, in contact with the sand from the beach, it had changed into a shiny hard material. These were the first glasses.

The first manufactured glass objects appeared in Egypt around the year 2000 B.C. The Egyptians created hollow objects using the ā€œsand nucleusā€ technique. They put little bags of sand into the molten glass as a mould to make unguent jars, amphorae and luxury and decorative objects. After the objects cooled, they removed the sand.

The Phoenicians surpassed the Egyptians in perfection and
fame as they obtained the first colourless transparent glass with the fine sand from their famous river Belo.

NATURAL GLASSES

The great majority of glasses are industrially manufactured. The main raw material used are silica sands, feldspars and limestone, all very abundant in the Earthā€™s crust.

However, there are some natural glasses, such as obsidians, also known as volcanic glass, produced by the brusque cooling of lava; fulgurites, the result of lightning striking sand; or tektites, produced by meteorite shock waves, like the one that led to the extinction of dinosaurs.

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