Abstract: The invention of glass occurred in Mesopotamia in late third millennium B.C. and it was considered an artificial precious stone just like in pharaonic Egypt. Its use remained largely limited to the highest social strata until the late Hellenistic period. Glass became available to wide segments of the Roman society only with the invention of the free-blowing technique somewhere along the Syro-Palestinian coast in the first century B.C., a fact that led to a previously unprecedented increase of its use. Raw glass was exclusively produced in large, specialized workshops along the Syro-Palestinian coast and in northern Egypt. From this region, raw glass was distributed all over the Roman Empire and was sold to secondary workshops, where it was transformed into glass vessels (tableware, drinking, serving and pouring vessels), flasks (for unguents, fragrances and medicine), and jewelry (beads, amulets, gems, rings and bracelets). In addition, enormous quantities of colored and transparent glass were used for the production of wall mosaics and the glazing of windows for secular and religious buildings. The long journey of glass, from the Levantine primary production centers to the secondary workshops throughout the Roman Empire and finally to the houses and sumptuous public buildings of the Romans and Byzantines will be traced in this talk.
BIO: ANASTASSIOS C. ANTONARAS, a specialist in the history of glass, jewelry and textiles, is an archaeologist and curator Head of Exhibition, Education and Communication Department at the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki. His books include: Glassworking, Ancient and Medieval: Terminology, Technology and Typology; A Greek- English-English-Greek Dictionary; Roman and Early Christian Glassworking: Vessels from Thessaloniki and its Region (which received a prize from the Academy of Athens in 2010); Fire and Sand: Ancient Glass in the Princeton University Art Museum; Artisanal Production in Ancient and Byzantine Thessaloniki: Archaeological, Literary and Epigraphic Evidence; Glassware and Glassworking in Thessaloniki: 1st Century BC - 6th Century AD.; Glassware and Glassworking in Thessaloniki: 1st Century BC – 6th Century AD; The Art of Glass. Works from the collection of the Museum of Byzantine Culture. Antonaras has organized numerous exhibitions and symposia, and has published numerous articles on objects from Thessaloniki. He is member of the editorial board of scientific journals in Europe and USA. He is the president of the International Association for the History of Glass.