The advancements in glassblowing also influenced architecture. The existence in the Roman world of glass panes for windows is a topic that has traditionally received little credit. It is considered a marginal phenomenon and did not concern the majority of the population. And yet, the first visitors to Herculaneum and
in the course of the 1700s and 1800s, were astonished by the quantity of glass still present in the window frames of habitations and public buildings.
Seneca considered applying glass panes to windows a recent invention in writings dating to the mid I century A.D. In addition to glass, specular stone (i.e. mica) was also used. The mineral was cut into thin, transparent sheets which were used to seal small windows or greenhouses where plants and flowers were placed in winter for protection. The data we present in this exhibition surprisingly confirm the testimonies of antiquity.
It is hard to overemphasise what a great leap forward the introduction of window glass into private habitations must have been. We can only imagine the hours people spent, protected from the elements, as they watched the landscape. This was a new phenomenon of extraordinary importance in our western culture, something that was not possible with the previous systems of protection such as wooden shutters and curtains. It meant the conquest of light which is closely tied to the use of glass.