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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Glass Working, Use and Discard

  • Author(s): Nicholson, Paul
  • et al.

Glass in ancient Egypt appeared in the New Kingdom. It was a novel and highly prized material, which quickly found favor with the elite. The first known glass sculpture in the round depicted the Egyptian ruler Amenhotep II. The purposes for which glass was used overlap with those traditionally known for objects made in faience, and both materials can be regarded as artificial versions of semiprecious stones, notably turquoise, lapis lazuli, and green feldspar. The techniques by which glass was worked in the Pharaonic period fall into two broad groups—the forming of vessels around a friable core, which was subsequently removed, and the casting of glass in molds to make solid objects. The vessels produced by core forming were almost invariably small, a matter of a few centimeters in height, and were mainly used for precious substances such as unguents. Cast items included sculpture as well as inlays and small amulets.

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