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Bent Glass: Color, Formation Techniques, and Early Trading

Bent glass was initially created using impure ingredients, resulting in a green tint. It was used primarily for decorative reasons. As time progressed, several compounds were utilized to create a range of colorful bent glass, mimicking precious and semi-precious stones. The colorants included cobalt, copper, silver, chrome, iron, gold, manganese, nickel, selenium and cadmium. Thousands of years passed since the discovery of glass before bent glass was created to possess the clarity and transparency it now has in window panes. Bent glass was either “core formed” or “rod formed”. Core formed objects were created by molding molten glass around a removable core or center, typically a combination of dung and clay mixed with water. In the rod forming technique, beads and other small items were made by manipulating a glob of molten glass on a long rod which was thrusted into a kiln until the glass was malleable.
In the third millennium BCE, Phoenician trading vessels carried bent glass and ingredients used for the creation of glass to Egypt, where it was used for decorative purposes by the aristocrats, and eventually made its way as far as the Celtic cultures of Britain. The Egyptians used glass beads as trading collateral in their dealings with other African peoples, who had never discovered the glass-making process. The Romans, and later the Europeans, continued using glass beads, bent glass, and other objects to trade in exchange for African valuables.

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