Ian Freestone

Professor of Archaeological Materials and Technologies, University College London

Ian Freestone trained as a geochemist before joining the British Museum, where he conducted research on historical objects of ceramic and glass. He is currently Professor of Archaeological Materials and Technology at University College, London where his research focuses on the glass industry from the Bronze Age to the medieval period.

10.00 - 10.30 AM

Day - 1 10 Feb

How it all began: The invention and re-invention of glass in the ancient world

Beads and small vessels made of strongly coloured, frequently opaque, soda-lime-silica glass were made around the middle of the second millennium BCE in the Middle East. Over the next three thousand years this artificial semi-precious stone was re-invented elsewhere, for example in China and in West Africa, but using other chemical systems. The technological trajectory of glass was critically influenced by the invention of glass blowing in the first century BCE, which led to the development of the transparent and colourless material which is widely understood as glass today.