Institute of Archaeology


Ian Freestone kicks off UN International Year of Glass

8 February 2022

Ian Freestone (UCL Institute of Archaeology) will open the UN International Year of Glass with a presentation in Geneva on 10 February 2022.

Roman glass (Image: Ian Freestone)

2022 has been declared the International Year of Glass by the United Nations and the opening ceremony takes place on Thursday 10 February in the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

The event celebrates the past, present and future of Glass for a sustainable, equitable and better tomorrow. Featuring 30 world-class speakers, talks will highlight the latest thinking on how Glass can aid the development of more just and sustainable societies alongside the most recent scientific and technical breakthroughs.

Ian Freestone has been invited to present the first lecture entitled How it all began: The invention and re-invention of glass in the ancient world at 11am, UK time.  


Beads and small vessels made of strongly coloured, frequently opaque, soda-lime-silica glass were made around the middle of the second millennium BCE in the Middle East. Over the next three thousand years this artificial semi-precious stone was re-invented elsewhere, for example in China and in West Africa, but using other chemical systems. The technological trajectory of glass was critically influenced by the invention of glass blowing in the first century BCE, which led to the development of the transparent and colourless material which is widely understood as glass today.

Further details