Although the production of faience is known in Egypt from as early as the Prehistoric Period, glass was probably manufactured for the first time shortly before 1500 BC. The craft was probably introduced into Egypt by glassmakers from Mitanni, brought back to Egypt after the campaigns of Thutmosis III.
We have to differentiate between the manufacture of glass from unprocessed raw materials (silica, alkali and lime) and the working of prepared glass in the form of rods or pieces of used glass. It seems likely that the first art was learned later than the second, and that the earliest glass in Egypt was made from material that was imported to be processed by craftsmen in situ, originally foreigners. As a result, the glass industry in Egypt did not go through a gradual process of growth; technically difficult pieces appear as early as the reign of Hatshepsut.
Besides being used for inlay, beads and amulets, glass was also used for larger objects, for example vases. These were not made with the glass-blowing technique, which was only introduced in the Roman Period, but by dipping a core of sand and mud into melted glass. The surface was smoothed by rubbing with a flat stone, and the rim and the base were formed using tongs. The process became more complicated by adding coloured strands to the base colour and creating different patterns with a needle, then pressing them into the still-soft original. Once the whole had cooled slowly, the core could be broken and removed through the neck of the vase. In addition to this core technique, glass could also be moulded with rods of glass of different colours being used to create a multicoloured effect. Craftsmen also utilized the technique used to split gemstones to create the desired shape from a rough piece of glass.
During the New Kingdom, glass appears to have been an expensive material, probably falling under royal control. Under Amenhotep IV there was a centre of the glass industry at El-'Amarna. Glass was regarded as an artificial gemstone and was a popular material for making jewellery. Painted wood was sometimes used to imitate glass. After the 21st Dynasty, the production of glass seems to have declined, but it revived again under the 26th Dynasty. In the Ptolemaic Period, Alexandria became a centre for the manufacture and processing of glass.