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Drinking Is as Old as Time. Turns Out, Glassware is Too.

George Rose for Getty Images

The Greeks, Romans and Egyptians all drank wine, as did pretty much every other ancient civilization. But out of what? It turns out that vessels in the ancient world were made in great quantities and diverse materials, including pottery, glass, ivory, stone, wood, leather, bronze, silver and gold.

In the Beginning

The earliest known drinking vessels were made from pottery—clay hardened by heat—and date back to the Upper Palaeolithic age. During the Bronze Age (3300–1200 BCE), when metalworking techniques were introduced, bronze and gold cups and goblets started to emerge. However, they remained reserved for a small wealthy elite.

During Roman times, metalware techniques were further developed. Roman emperors and senators were known to have drank wine in vessels made from materials including gold, silver and lead, often with elaborate gilt decoration on the exterior. However, on most days, a pottery goblet embellished by ornate scrollwork of buds and leaves would suffice.