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Dark Age Glass Part 1 of 2

Glass from the Dark Ages to the fall of Constantinople

In the wake of the barbarian invasions of Europe during the fourth and fifth centuries AD, the influence of the Roman Empire waned, and the luxury, technical efficiency and classical standards of its culture rapidly disappeared. The beleaguered continent entered a new phase in its history, a phase lasting some 500 years which has come to be known as the Dark Ages. Nevertheless, although standards of glass making declined, the profound imprint of centuries of Roman rule could not be entirely eradicated from European soil, and the influence of its glass-makers was still evident in the styles adopted by the glass-makers of the new era. In the northern countries. Glass-making moved away from the centres of population into the forests, and developed different regional styles, while in southern and eastern Europe, and also in the countries of the Near East, glass remained closer to the Roman tradition.

The Byzantine culture of the Eastern Empire, which lasted from the fourth century until the fall of Constantinople in the 1453, remained the centre of both Greek and Roman civilization, and its glass-makers were most noted for their use of rich glass mosaic decoration on buildings, and for enamelling and gilding on glassware which was used with much skill in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In Kievan Russia glass was used for windows, tableware and jewellery until the Mongollian conquest in the early twelfth century, and from the twelfth ti the mid-fifteenth centuries glass increasingly became an object of everyday yse in the Central Balkans.

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