ORIGIN OF THE MIRROR
Before the invention of the mirror, man had only the surface of still water to contemplate his image. The earliest mirrors were probably still bodies of water and rocks or clay vessels containing liquid.
1. Egyptian mirror from the XVIIIth dynasty, in silver, gilt wood handle. About 1500 years before BC.
2. Egyptian mirror from the XVIIIth dynasty, alloy of copper and silver. Around 1300 BC.
3. Greco-Roman mirror in bronze. 5th century BC.
4. Chinese mirror in silvered bronze, Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The earliest “manufactured” mirrors date from around 6000 BC, in the region of Anatolia (present-day Turkey). These mirrors were then pieces of polished stone like obsidian, a natural volcanic glass.
About 2000 years later more reflective mirrors with a polished metal surface were obtained.
- From 3500 BC, in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and ancient Egypt appear mirrors in polished copper and / or silver.
- Then around 2000 BC, in China and India, mirrors in polished bronze.
Polished metal mirrors such as bronze, copper, silver, gold, tin have been used for centuries. Always small in size, they were rare and precious. At the time it was the quality of the polishing of the surface that offered a more or less important power of reflection. But this technique did not produce high quality mirrors and the surface oxidized quickly.
In the 5th century, the Chinese began to manufacture mirrors using silver-mercury amalgam. This new technique will inspire European manufacturers of the Renaissance (16th century) a few centuries later, by making a glass mirror covered with a tin-mercury amalgam.