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Glass Production in the Ancient World

Art & Culture

Glass Production in the Ancient World is a fascinating subject and in this post we would explore it for a bit. Glassmaking originated around 2500 BCE, in Mesopotamia. And by the mid-first millennium BCE., it had spread throughout the ancient world. The number of vessels made from glass remained limited. However, until the introduction of two important technical advances. First, the use of the blowpipe and secondly closed multipart molds—in the late first century BCE; And the early first-century CE., respectively. These advances revolutionized the glass industry under the Roman Empire; making glass vessels accessible to all and allowing producers to create a wide range of shapes, sizes, and usages. Some of the earliest vessels made by mold blowing bear the names of the craftsmen who “signed” the molds.



Glass Production in the Ancient World: Ennion – Master of Roman Glass

Ennion probably lived and worked in the city of Sidon, in Roman Phoenicia and today’s Lebanon. Although his name was Semitic in origin, he signed his work in Greek, the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean in his time. He is thought to have been a Phoenician, and some scholars believe that later in life, with growing fame and demand, he moved to the north Italian city of Aquileia, closer to Rome and its markets.



Ennion was among the most prominent glassworkers of Ancient Rome, active from about 1 to 50 CE. He is famous for being the first known maker of decorated mold-blown glass and for the exquisite quality of his work. Ennion branded his work by signing them. Glassware—primarily jugs and cups—signed by Ennion was traded throughout the Mediterranean and found during archaeological excavations at sites from Israel to Spain.



Nahman Avigad, during his excavations in the Jewish Quarter, found a glass vase with Ennion’s signature. Also, Avigad discovered refuse (waste) from a glassmaking workshop. The refuse, consisting of lumps of glass, unfinished vessels, and glass rods and tubes, had been dumped into a Jewish ritual bath that was paved over during the reign of Herod.

Terra Sancta Museum
Terra Sancta Museum

This is the earliest archaeological evidence of blown glass found anywhere. This discovery indicates that Jerusalem was a center of glass production, which is surprising because we would not expect this industrial activity in an urban center.

So I hope you enjoyed my post about glass Production in the Ancient World. You can read more about related subjects in my Blog.

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Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

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