Fact No. 76. (Published on 3/26/2005)

Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder (23AD-79AD) was a Roman writer and naturalist who, in his book Natural History, includes an alleged account of the of the discovery of glass.

According to Pliny, the discovery of glass occurred when Phoenicians, who had anchored their boats on the shores of Palestine, set about to cook dinner on the beach. They were unable to find rocks on which to set their cooking pots so they used nitrum (believed by some to be saltpeter) from their ship's cargo. When the nitrum and sand melted in the heat of the cooking fire the result was glass.

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