[00:01.00]Listen to part of a lecture in an ancient history class.
[00:06.29]Professor: Ok, last time we were discussing trade and commerce during the Bronze Age.[00:11.62] And I said a little over three thousand years ago, there was quite a lively trade among the countries along the Mediterranean Sea.[00:21.15] People were making objects out of bronzes and they were using bronze tools to make other goods.[00:26.70] And they developed trade networks to trade these goods with other countries around the Mediterranean.[00:32.11] One of the things they traded was glass.
[00:35.98] And recently there was an archeological excavation in Egypt, on the Nile River around where it enters the Mediterranean Sea where they discovered an ancient glass factory. [00:47.26]Robert?
[00:48.19]Robert: I thought our textbook said that the Egyptians imported their glass from other countries.
[00:53.28]Professor: Well, until now that’s what the evidence seemed to suggest.[00:56.90] I mean, we had some evidence that suggested that the Egyptians were making glass objects, but not glass.
[01:03.60]Robert: Ok. Am……Am I missing something? [01:05.95]They are making glass but they are not making glass?
[01:09.22]Professor: I said they were making glass objects, right?[01:12.66] You see, it was previously thought that they weren’t actually making the raw glass itself that they were importing unfinished glass from Mesopotamia, which today is a region consisting of Iraq and parts of Syria and Turkey and Iran, and simply reworking it.[01:30.33] Most archeologists believed that the glass factories were in Mesopotamia because that’s where the oldest known glass remains come from.[01:39.77] You see, there were two stages of glass making.[01:42.38] The premiere production stage where they made disks of raw glass.[01:47.63] And there was the secondary stage where they melted the raw glass, the glass disks, and created decorative objects, so, or whatever.[01:58.44] And from this new Egyptian site, we learned that the primary production stage had several steps.[02:05.02] First they took quartz, a colorless transparent mineral, and crushed it.[02:11.59] Then they took that crushed quartz and mixed it with plant ash.[02:16.30] A plant ash is just what it sounds like, the ashes left after you burnt plant material.[02:22.25] They slowly heated this mixture at a relatively low temperature in small vessels, containers like jars made out of clay.[02:31.32] And that yielded a kind of glassy material.
[02:35.52] They took this glassy material and ground it up into a powder and then they used metallic dye to color it.[02:43.99] After that, they poured the colored powder out into disk-shaped molds and heated it up to very high temperatures.[02:53.35] So that it melted. [02:54.70]After cooled, they break the molds, and inside there were the glass disks.[03:02.38] These disks were shipped out to other sites within Egypt and places around the Mediterranean.[03:08.09] Then in the secondary phase, the disks were reheated, and shaped into decorative objects.[03:14.62] Susan?
[03:16.30]Susan: So what kind of objects were people making back then?
[03:19.37]Professor: Well, the most common objects we found, mostly in Egypt and Mesopotamia, the most common objects were beads.[03:27.74] One thing Egyptians were very very good at was imitating precious stones.[03:33.22] They created some beads that look so much like emeralds and pearls that it was very difficult to distinguish them from the real thing.[03:41.47] Em, and……and also beautiful vessels, ah, with narrow necks.[03:48.10] They were probably really valuable so they wouldn’t have been used to hold cooking oil or common food items.[03:54.26] They were most likely used for expensive liquids, like perfume.[03:58.06] Now the glass made at this factory was mostly red, to get this red color they used copper, in a sophisticated process.[04:07.22] Of course, any kind of glass was very valuable so these red bottles would only have been owned by wealthy people.[04:13.42] In fact, because it was so difficult to make, and sort of mysterious and complicated, it was probably a product produced for the royal family.[04:22.13] And they probably used glass to show their power.[04:25.32] Also, beautiful expensive objects made great gifts if you are looking to establish or strengthen political alliances.[04:33.41] And it is quite possible that the ancient Egyptians were actually exporting glass, not just making it or importing it.[04:39.84] The trade with Mesopotamia was probably a friendly mutual trade because a Mesopotamia glass was usually white or yellow.[04:47.64] So Mesopotamians might accept something like, we will give you two white disks for two red disks. [04:54.31]There is no proof of that, at least not yet.