The Unique Origin of Glass


Glass is a amazingly versatile and has a plethora of personal and professional uses. At Cornwall Glass we offer a wide range of glass products and services to meet the specific glass needs of our clients. We pride ourselves on being glass experts, but it’s just as important to understand the origin of the products we work with as well.

The Unique Origin of Glass - Cornwall Glass


Do you know where glass first originated?

‘Glass was produced in sub-Saharan Africa long before Europeans arrived, according to scientists studying beads found in Nigeria. Chemical analysis of glass found at a Nigerian archaeological site revealed a distinct composition entirely unique to the region. The finding contradicts a long-held assumption that glass was brought to sub-Saharan Africa by traders from the Mediterranean or the Middle East.

Igbo Olokun, the site where the beads were discovered, is in the north of an ancient city and regional centre of power called Ile-Ife – the ancestral home of West Africa’s Yoruba people. “This area has been recognised as a glass-working workshop for more than a century,” said Dr Abidemi Babatunde Babalola, an anthropologist at Harvard University who led the research project. The abundance of glass beads found in Ile-Ife has been associated with the many shrines and sculptures historically located there – however, archaeologists have presumed they were evidence of trade with distant nations.

Two groups of glass were found at Igbo Olokun, one with high levels of lime and alumina, and one with low levels of lime and high levels of alumina. Both were identified as unique to the region, and Dr Babalola and his team noted their composition reflected the local geology and raw materials that were available. Notably, the glass found at Igbo Olokun was also dated to between the 1100s and 1500s, centuries before Europeans established trade networks in West Africa.’ (Josh Gabbatiss,

The more we understand the true origins of things, the better we can develop ways to grow and further evolve how those things are used. Contact us for all of your glass needs!

Glass Innovations