Glass in the Middle East

  • Stéphanie Boulogne
Living reference work entry


Glass, zujāj, in Arabic transcription, has been well known in the East since the third millennium (Mesopotamia). It is obtained by mixing a “forming” (silica, mainly found in sand) with a flux (natron) or plant ashes (soda, from Salsola soda or potassium ashes) and a stabilizer. Then, the substance is fired at at least 1,000° (Foy & Nenna, 2001; Marin, 1877–1919; Whitehouse, 2002).

Glass from Islamic times is generally found in very small quantities, especially compared to pottery. Fragments constituted of plain glass with a few decorated samples are usually blown or mold-blown; those could be of vessels, windows, bangles, beads, pins, or weights. The paste color as well as the quality, translucent or opaque, may be different regarding location and dating. The glass is most frequently blue, brown, or green but few samples of yellow, or white colors are also identified.

This entry will introduce Islamic glass from the seventh to the nineteenth century in the three main...


Textual Source Thirteenth Century Glass Fragment Metropolitan Museum Embossed Pattern 
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I warmly thank Mr. Derek Kennet (archaeologist, lecturer Durham, UK), Mrs. Venitia Porter (head of Islamic art and archaeology Department at British Museum London, UK), and Mrs. Rosaleen Haddon (archaeologist, head of the Samarra find inventory at the British Museum, London, UK) for their help. I really thank very sincerely Mrs. Helaine Selin, editor of Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures for her very strong and fortunate help in the translation of this article. Finally, I am really grateful to Michael Jung (curator at Muzeo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale, Roma) for the precious references he has provided me and I thank you very much J. Schiattecate for his interest and support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRS (Associated), IESAParisFrance