Last Updated: May 22, 2018     Views: 167

Workers at a furnace from Agricola, Berckwerck Buch (CGML 66820)

Thank you for your question! Yes, wood was used in ancient glass furnaces. Mark Taylor and David Hill's website The Glassmakers provides information on re-creating and using ancient glass furnaces. Their Roman Furnace Project from 2005 and 2006 featured a wood-fired glassworking furnace. Their website includes information about history and techniques, along with their other projects. Two articles on the Roman Furnace Project were also featured in the Journal of Glass Studies in 2008: "Experiments in the Reconstruction of Roman Wood-Fired Glassworking Furnaces" by Hill and Taylor and "Waste Products and Their Formation Process" by Sarah Paynter. A brief video was produced as well, Roman Furnace ([S.l.]: Bye Jones Productions, 2005) demonstrating glassblowing at the lit furnace.


Image: Woodcut of glassworkers at a furnace from
Georg. Agricola, 
Berckwerck Buch (Gedruckt in der
keyserlichen Reichssstatt Franckfort am Mayn:
durch P. Schmidt in Verlegung Sigmundt
​Feyrabendts, 1580). CGML 66820.

The following items might also be of interest (links are to records in the Rakow Library catalog unless otherwise noted):


You may also be interested in the digital version of The Art of Glassmaking, 1751-1772; A Portfolio of Prints from the Diderot Encyclopedia (Corning, N.Y.: Corning Glass Center, [1960-1970]), which depicts 18th-century glassworkers using a wood-fired furnace. In 2012, the Equinox Gaffers documented their visit to The Glass Furnace in Istanbul, Turkey, and their chance to see a working wood-fired furnace in a CMoG blog post. Finally, below is a video posted on the CMoG YouTube channel that features former curator David Whitehouse discussing an ancient Egyptian furnace.


A more extensive list of resources is available upon request. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance via Ask a Glass Question ( or by email ( or phone (607-438-5300).

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