• The Old Bead and the Young "Dough"


    Can queen Hatshepsut's beads, made three thousand four hundred years ago, be considered the most ancient glass thing? It turns out, no. In one of the graves near Thebes, they recently found a greenish glass bead, similar in shape to a drop. The age of this bead is five and a half thousand years!
    One of the oldest beads
    One of the Oldest Beads

    Those two thousand years that separate the tomb of Hatshepsut from the Thebes grave were not in vain: the queen's beads are much more elegant than their ancestor. During this time, the Egyptians learned to make from glass not only beads, but also vases, necklaces, embalming vessels, goblets for water and wine and small thick-walled perfume bottles.

    All these things were made of opaque stained glass.

    The Egyptians did not even suspect that the glass could be transparent. In order for the glass to turn transparent, you need to bring the temperature in the oven to 1500 degrees.  Egyptian glassmakers could not achieve this. They made an ugly brownish-green glass, similar in color to burnt sugar. To prepare glass of other, more beautiful colors and shades, it was necessary to mix iron, copper or manganese to it.

    Ancient Egyptian Ocellate Beads
    Ancient Egyptian Ocellate Beads
     The Egyptians made glass in small clay pots in the open air, kindling strong flames under the pots. The flame did not give the necessary heat, and they had to embark on all sorts of tricks - for example, repeat founding twice. In the end, glass was formed in the pots - thick and viscous, like candied honey. It could be kneading and sculpting from it, as from dough.

    But this glass dough was so hot that it was impossible to touch it with a hand: splinter wood blazed up from contact with it. How to make jugs, vases, cups, bottles from such a dough?

    It is as difficult as fashioning a goblet from red-hot lava flowing from the mouth of a volcano. And it is impossible to wait for the glass dough cooling: when it cools, it hardens at the same time. You can’t fashion anything from a poured glass.

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