Citizens' Campus: For the Year of Glass: 5000 Years of Glassmaking
Chief Engineer Klaus Jahn Ilmenauer Glastradition e.V.
On the occasion of the Year of Glass: 5000 Years of Glass Production - From the Beginnings to the Development of the Technical Glass Industry in the Thuringian Forest
3000 B.C. first glass products, especially beads, were produced in the Near East. In 1500 B.C., bowls and goblets made according to the sand casting method followed, and with the introduction of the glassmaker's pipe in 100 B.C., hollow glass production began. As the Roman Empire expanded into these areas, the technology of glassmaking was adopted and transferred to the Roman territories in Western Europe. Especially in the Rhineland, glass was produced until the fall of the Roman Empire around 500 AD. It was not until around the year 1000 that glass production was revived in Europe. Initiated by linguistic monks, demanded and promoted by the monasteries and manorial houses to meet their needs for sacred and tableware as well as window glazing, glass melting places, forest - or traveling glassworks and around 1500 the village glassworks (Langenbach 1525, Lauscha 1597) arose especially in the low mountain ranges. In the second half of the 18th century, lampwork glassblowing for the production of beads and knick-knacks was introduced in Lauscha, which quickly spread throughout the Thuringian Forest and complemented the now numerous glassworks and encouraged the founding of new ones. In 1840, Ferdinand Greiner founded the first factory in Stützerbach for the production of thermometers and barometers previously imported from France, thus establishing the German glass instrument and laboratory glass industry. Until the end of the Second World War, the region around Ilmenau with its new technical and scientific facilities developed into the world metropolis of the technical glass industry. This development continued until 1990 with the construction of new glass factories, some equipped with self-developed modern technology. In spite of the often decisive restrictions imposed by the market economy and economic policy, some companies are still successful and in some cases leading on the world market with the naturally further developed processes and products taken over almost exclusively from the nationally owned companies, which speaks for the sustainability of the tradition.