Blue glass jug, inscribed for Thutmose III
Probably from the tomb of Thutmose III, Thebes, Egypt
18th Dynasty, around 1400 BC
Earliest Egyptian example of enamelled glass
This jug is one of the earliest Egyptian glass vessels to have been found. The few glass beads of the Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC), made a thousand years earlier, seem to have been the result of a mistake in the similar process of faience manufacture. The Egyptians began producing glass in quantity in the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC). The technique was perhaps brought to Egypt by Syrian craftsmen, as its introduction seems to coincide with the successful Syrian campaigns of Thutmose III.
Glass was produced by heating quartz sand and natron until they were molten, adding a colour agent such as a copper compound for blue and green. To make a glass vessel, a core of sandy clay was moulded over the end of a metal rod to form the interior shape. The rod was dipped into the molten glass and spun to coat the core. The craftsman added details such as handles and bases using tongs, while the glass was still hot.
The colour of this vessel probably imitates turquoise, the yellow and white represents gold and silver. The tamarisk trees, dots and scales, and the name of the king are enamelled, the earliest known example of this technique in Egypt.
T.G.H. James, An introduction to ancient Egy (London, 1979)
H. Tait (ed.), Five thousand years of glass (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)
I. Shaw and P. Nicholson (eds.), British Museum dictionary of A (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)