from: The Glassmakers, An Odyssey of the Jews, The First Three Thousand Years, Samuel Kurinsky, Hippocrene, 1991. [Extensive references (including, primary authors)]. [Note: research to corroborate, etc.].
'It was learned, to the author's great astonishment, that glassmaking was deemed a "Jewish trade" from ancient times well into the present era. Unusual enticements were proffered to glassmakers to encourage their immigration into various realms, for it was a secret trade, and only the Semitic migrants were privy to its secrets. It was none other than St. Jerome [c. 342 - 420] who complained that glassmaking was one of the trades with which the Semites "captured the Roman world"! [see 1014 (Jerome)]
THE ART OF GLASSMAKING APPEARED DURING THE LATTER PART OF THE 3RD MILLENNIUM BCE. The art was associated with the progenitors of the Jewish people, a people who derived in great measure from that Mesopotamian milieu; the spread of the art into both the Eastern and Western worlds may be attributed in no small measure to that common genesis. The path of the dissemination of the art is peculiarly parallel to the dispersion of the Hebrew nation. There are yawning gaps in the histories of both the art and the people, yet it seems that wherever relevant facts emerge, that art and that people merge. When the two histories are placed side by side a parallel pattern appears in which the association between the people and the art becomes plainly apparent.
From their beginnings in Akkadia, westward across Arameia into Canaan, eastward back into Persia and across the desert to China, across North Africa into Iberia, across Anatolia into Greece and Italy, up the Seine-Rhine valleys and across the Hungarian plains, through Germany into the pale of the Polish and Russian plains, Jews sought opportunity or refuge, or were implanted as slaves or displaced persons carrying their arts, science, philosophy, religion and the art of glassmaking with them.
Samuel Kurinsky New York' [xv].
"The first application of the art of glassmaking was mainly to the imitation of precious stones and the formulation of cast and cut figurines and objects of adornment. Casting, even the lost-wax process of casting, was already well known from the well-established metallurgic arts. Then a revolutionary method of producing vessels created a new, exportable product, and an industry was born." .
"....It can be stated with assurance that the artisans who worked glass in ancient Egypt were not Egyptians.
The dearth of suitable amounts of fuel makes it even more improbable that the invention of the process of glassmaking could have taken place in Egypt, for such an event presupposes a highly developed pyrotechnology, one which depended on an availability of the very fuel which was absent from ancient Egypt. The Egyptians themselves are witness to that deficiency, for while every tool and every process is depicted on the walls of Egyptian tombs and described on Egyptian papyri, not a
single depiction of glass production or even of a drafted furnace capable of the production of glass appears anywhere, in spite of the explicit particulars with which all arts are delineated." .
"If Akkadia was the womb in which the art of glassmaking gestated and from which it was born and Mesopotamia was the home in which it passed its infancy, then the Levantine coast was the school in which, evolving over the next 1000 years, the art grew to full maturity. No spot on earth has a better or a more lasting claim to importance in the history of glassmaking than does the Levantine coast and its hinterlands. The most ancient traditions refer to the strip of coast from Ashkelon to Sidon and especially to that particular part through which the Belus River flows, a tiny, seemingly insignificant strip of western Asia. The art was practiced at the coast and spread into the forested Galilean and Lebanese hills where the art matured and was practiced for over 3000 years. The revolutionary process of glassblowing, the last great advance in the technology of the art, was invented in the Galilee about the first century B.C.E. ...." .
'Yigael Yadin [1917 - 1984] emphasizes that, while he does not look upon the Old Testament as being without error, "archeology has increased my belief that basically the historical parts of the Bible are true...I think archeology has actually given me, if you ask me subjectively, a greater respect for the Bible."10 Yadin wrote that he approaches a dig with a spade in one hand and a Bible in the other, an attitude reflecting that of Albright, Petrie and other such early diggers of ancient rubble. Yadin's excavations at Hazor produced the evidence which justified his confidence; Hazor's ashes provided clear testimony to the accuracy of the Biblical record concerning the fate which Hazor suffered. Yadin's viewpoint is shared by many of those who--whatever model of Israelite settlement they prefer to follow, and while rejecting an overly fundamentalist, literal interpretation of Biblical lore--nevertheless recognize the value of the Old Testament as a historical record. The inconsistencies are often found to lie more in interpretation of the Old Testament than from evidence derived from the remains of civilizations, or rather, from evidence not found in those remains, i.e., negative proofs.' .
"The Jewish priestly class, whose activities receive almost all of historiographical attention, constituted but a tiny proportion of the overall Jewish population. The Jewish artisans, slave and freemen, whose Eastern expertise created a variety of industries along the Roman routes, are hardly noticed in literature; they are hidden among the so-called Orientals or Syrians...." .
'The artistic renderings in the various media employed in the catacombs contain pagan as well as Jewish symbols, a significant testimony to the diverse composition and tastes of the Jewish population during a period of several hundred years. In addition to depictions of scenes from the Old Testament and such standard symbols as the menorah, lulab, etrog, grape clusters and vines, Torah arcs, the portals of the Jerusalem temple, the shofar and trumpets, there are representations of genii and divinities such as Pegasus, Victory and Fortune which eloquently testify to the fact that contemporary Jewish culture was far from being monolithic, let alone universally strict orthodox. The lions which flank the arc of the Torah, the eagles, the peacock
and other birds and animals, as well as human, even nude figures are well represented in Jewish catacomb art. Jewish art existed as a prototype for "Christian borrowing, reinterpretation and adoption."38' .
'A number of designs appear in catacomb art in which fish on a platter, "obviously the Sabbath meal" are depicted.39 This theme in Jewish art predates and bears no relationship to the use of fish (ichthys) as a symbol of Christ among the early Christians, so chosen because the letters of the word form an acrostic of the phrase "Jesus Christ, son of God, Saviour." The depiction of fish in gold-glass vessels, as well as renderings of fish in other media (such as in mosaic floors) is often mistakenly attributed to Christian art.40' .
[Photograph] "A gold-glass fragment of the 4th century CE with Christian motif. The depiction of a shepherd and flock replaced the Jewish themes for use in Christian burials. The Jewish practice of imbedding such gold-glass bottoms of bowls into the walls of tombs and of the use of the phrase "Pie Zesis" [definition?] was continued by the Christians.
Photograph courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass." .
'It was very likely St. Jerome's Aquileian experience which led him to complain bitterly and resentfully that the Semitic artisans, mosaicists and sculptors were everywhere, that not only was retail trade in their hands but that they controlled the export of industrial products such as those made of glass, silk and leather. The saint cited glassmaking as one of the trades "by which the Semites captured the Roman world."60' . [See: 1012 (Jerome)].
'"....they [Jews] combined a willingness to migrate, a fervent sense of parenthood, a racial solidarity, a genius for selling, semitic qualities that no other glassmakers ever possessed." Thorpe ["W.A. Thorpe, the English glass historian"] continues to relate that by the late Roman period in
Nice, Marseille, Orleans, Bourges, Treves, and above all Paris, industrial capital was controlled by the Semites....Their activities were not confined to the black-coat business of bankers, ship-owners, money-lenders, and wholesale produce merchants. They were the leaders in the profession of law and medicine and in the arts of jeweler, goldsmith and silversmith.67
The equally prestigious German glass historian, Axel von Saldern, agrees, noting that while Syria-Palestine remained the cradle of the newly created industrial glassmaking due to the invention of glassblowing and while Alexandria continued to produce luxury ware, "Naples, Rome, northern Italy, south eastern France, Cologne and other cities along the Rhine could also claim an efficient industry established mainly by Jewish glassmakers emigrated from Palestine in the first century."68' .
["Notes"] '40. For a full discussion of the use of fish, bread and wine as Jewish, pre-Christian symbols and of including fish et.[sic] al[.] regularly and even ritually as part of the Sabbath meals, see Erwin R. Goodenough, "The Symbolic Value of the Fish in Judaism," Jewish Symbols in the Graeco-Roman Period, vol. 5, 1953.' .
'The standardly applied term "Roman Glass" is, therefore, misleading, for it camouflages the true provenience [also, provenance] of the product and attributes a technology to a people who never practiced it. "JEWISH GLASS, ROMAN PERIOD" would be a more appropriate and far more accurate label for virtually all the glassware produced during the historical period in which the Romans conquered much of the Western world. Jewish artisans of Eretz Israel, Alexandria and the Fustat produced virtually all of this ware, and Mid-Eastern artisans, Jews for the most part, were the ones who carried their craft into the Roman diaspora.' .
'Variations of the name "Jason" are Jesus, Joseph, Joshua or Yossi.52 Josephus informs us that many persons named Jesus preferred to use the form "Jason." Jesus is itself a Hebrew name, as is evident by the most famous Hebrew bearer of that name....' .
"It now appears, however, that glassmaking was introduced into China even earlier than would appear from the fables, perhaps as far back as the fifth century B.C.E. Artifacts of glass had been trickling through along ancient byways to central China long before that time. Glass beads and amulets were universally appreciated and were prime products for exchange throughout the ages. The use of glass beads as a means of exchange continued well into our modern era; the colonization of the world was accomplished largely by means of barrels of beads brought to appreciative primitive peoples. Columbus, upon first arriving in the New World, obtained the good will of the Carib Indians with colorful beads of glass; Manhattan Island was purportedly purchased with a handful of glass beads; the American West was won by exchanging beads for beaver skins; from the South Sea islands to Alaska, glass beads were dangled before the eyes of peoples for whom they represented costly gems and who were amazed that such precious items could be obtained for a parcel of land which was largely free for the taking, or for the skins of animals who reproduced without end, or for the nuggets of yellow metal which lay loose in the beds of streams. More advanced cultures were equally enamored with glass beads and with glass as acceptable substitutes for precious stones. Just as the Near Eastern avidity for lapis lazuli spurred the production of glass imitations at the onset of the art and thereby implemented the conduct of trade, so the appetite for glass simulations of jade assisted in the development of trade to the Far East." .
'The history of glass and that of the Jews appear to be inextricably linked in every area in which each is found, and China is no exception. The proposition: "Wherever glassmaking existed, Jews are to be found and wherever Jews are found, the import or manufacture of glassware exists," applies as aptly to China and the silk route as it does elsewhere, and holds almost as true for three other basic ingredients of ancient China tradeCsilk, flax and spices.
The Jewish population of Sassanian Persia doubled as a result of the struggles with Rome, which ended with the expulsion of Jews from Judah. The Jews continued their role as world-girdling traders and immigrant artisans who spread new goods, ideas and technologies throughout the civilized world, and the Sassanian Jews were prominent among them.' .
"The people who provided the link between the two disparate cultures, Zoroastrian and Christian, were the Jews." .
"The Jews of India and China never experienced anti-Semitism; on the contrary, they were treated with respect." .
'When Charlemagne [742 - 814 ("king of the Franks 768
These remarkable traders were accorded extraordinary privileges even during times when Jews in general were otherwise virulently oppressed. They were more than mere merchants in many ways; they were the carriers of a civilized culture which had matured more than two millennia before the young, relatively backward, developing European and central Asian civilizations had appeared, and more than a millennium before Far Eastern civilizations had matured.' .
'Significantly, no church existed in the industrial area [of Constantinople] in the early Christian period. It was not until the Jews were expelled from the synagogue by either Theodosius II [401 - 450 (Eastern Roman Emperor 408 - 450)] [see 967 (Theodosius II)] or Justinius II [? (possibly Justin II, Byzantine Emperor 565 - 578)], and the synagogue itself was seized and converted into the "Church of the Mother of God" that the first significant Christian presence can be discerned in the industrial zone.8' .
'The production of silk and of glass were major industries and tempting prizes which the Crusaders could not ignore. Roger II invaded Byzantium on his "Christian" mission, evacuated thousands of Jewish artisans and peremptorily transported them to Sicily in the year 1147. The glassmaking industry of Corinth and Thessalonica went out of existence immediately thereafter, and virtually disappeared from Constantinople. Glassmakers shortly began to mow down the trees and blackening the skies of Apulia and Sicily. The Italian lands of the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas were not virgin territories for the operations of glassmakers. Glassmakers were established around Spina for a time around the tenth century B.C.E.; some of the earliest examples of gold-glass were recovered from Canosa, Apulia, in the third century B.C.,19 a date precedent to the implantation of bottoms of vessels (fondi d'oro), fabricated in this unique "sandwich" technique, in the Jewish and Christian catacombs of Rome.' .
[Venice] 'The economic loss engendered by the expulsion of the Jews led the Venetian senate to reconsider its previous actions and to permit the Jews to dwell and conduct their affairs in Venice, on condition that their dwellings be physically separated from the Christians and that they be confined at night to their assigned quarters. On April 22, 1515, a return to Giudecca was first proposed. The Jews made a counter-proposal that they be allowed to establish themselves on the island of Murano!60
This pointed request is explicable only within the context of either an ongoing Jewish community on the cluster of islands devoted to the one industry, glassmaking, the islands collectively known as "Murano," or at the very least, as in the case of the Universita d'Altare, the existence of a community which made Jews, practicing or covert, welcome. The proposal of the Jews to establish communal residence on Murano or alternately on Giudecca was rejected; the first ghetto was established in neither of the two proposed districts but on the island of San Geralomo at what was then the northern boundary of the city. In 1516 the Jews, essential for the continuation of commerce and banking, but considered expendable for the trades, were allowed to return to Venice but were ensconced within the confines of a huge, fortress-like, defunct CANNON-PRODUCING FOUNDRY, TERMED A GETO, in the Venetian lingo; its name became the eponym of restricted Jewish quarters from that time forward. The Jews were walled into the area with a single door to the outside world. A curfew was imposed and the door was shut tight all night, guarded by Christian guards at the expense of the penned Jews. Thus began a new phase of segregation in which the Christian world, having driven the (practicing) Jews out of most means of making a living as artisans, continued to make use of the Jews as bankers, doctors, merchants, international correspondents and credit custodians. The decree of the Signoria of March 29, 1516, indicates that in spite of the presumed prohibition against dwelling within Venice, many Jews, in fact, continued to reside throughout the island complex. The decree demands that the Jews "who live in the various districts of the city go immediately to live in the houses of the Geto."' .
"The paths through the Diaspora intertwine tortuously, cross, form nodules, disengage and reengage in country after country, finally fading into oblivion. The first course of the odyssey of the glassmakers carried them from Akkadia into Canaan and from thence into Egypt where their art suddenly appeared and just as suddenly disappeared as the pharaohs chose plunder over progress. Greek Alexandria drew the artisans back into Egypt to create a center in which the art became the envy of the classical world. The glassmakers followed the Roman legions into Italy, Spain and Gaul, were driven out by CHRISTIAN INTOLERANCE, and took their art with them. Linen and glass and silk and spices were borne back and forth over the Persian passes into China and India; the glassmakers crossed the mountains from the Galilee, Judah, Byzantium, Persia, and Transylvania, gathered in the Danube basin, and were pushed by Byzantine perfidy through Bohemia and Bavaria into France where they achieved noble status as the gentilshommes verrieres [(my translation) gentlemen glassworkers]; the artisans were thereafter swirled around in an eddy of intolerance and were cast off by its spume into England and America; Crusaders transplanted the artisans from Eretz Israel and Byzantium to the Adriatic and southern Italy, from whence they were forced to make their way to Tuscany and Venice and Genoa. Wherever the Jews went on their desperate odyssey through the Diaspora, the art of glassmaking went with them, and their descendants finally forgot from whence they came.
The latter courses of that long, involved journey must remain the subject of another book." [388-389]. [End of text].