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Glass

The oldest finds of artificially produced glass in the form of glass beads date back to around 3500 BC from Egyptian royal tombs. Around 1500 BC, the first hollow glasses were produced in Egypt and in the Mesopotamian region and wine glasses were already being used. At that time, the glass was heated to about 900 °C, it was then in a viscous state and was wrapped around solid sand or clay cores and modelled. Its fragility prevented glass from being used for larger containers and thus for transport. Around 200 BC, the invention of the glassmaker's pipe (glass blowing) and the glass melting furnace by the Phoenicians in the area of present-day Syria fundamentally revolutionised glass production.

The Romans produced window glass for the first time in the 1st century AD. They also already made bottles for wine, but these were hardly ever used for storage due to their fragility. Clay vessels such as amphorae were still used for this purpose. The oldest wine bottle in the world with contents is on display in a museum in Speyer. It was found in a Roman tomb and dates from the 4th century A.D. Incidentally, the age of glass can be determined by means of ion beam analysis. This can be used to detect manipulations and wine adulterations when selling old and expensive vintages. The London-based Antique Wine Company offers a service in this regard

From the 14th century onwards, luxury glass produced in Venice was exported worldwide. Glass was an absolute luxury item and drinking glasses made of silver were considered ordinary. Around this time, straw-wrapped bottles were also used to transport wine in Florence, but glass was still far too fragile. For the most part, wooden barrels or containers made of other materials such as earthenware or tin continued to be used for this purpose. It was not until the beginning of the 17th century that more resistant bottles could be produced in England due to coal-fired ovens and thus great heat. It was here that the production of lead crystal was discovered in 1675. Now bottles of various shapes and sizes were produced industrially. Today, glass containers of 25 to 65 litres are used as an alternative to small wooden barrels for ageing and storing wine. See also bottles, glass corks and wine vessels.

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