called a “reading stone”. Around 1000 C.E. European monks would take a piece of clear rock, often quartz, and place it on top of the reading material. The clear rock magnified the letters, making them appear larger, um, looks like what happens when a drop of water falls on something, whatever’s below the drop of water appears larger, right? Well, the “reading stone” works in a similar way. But rocks like quartz, well, quartz of optical quality weren’t cheap. Late in the 13th century, glass maker in Italy came up with a less expensive alternative. They made reading stones out of clear glass. And these clear glass reading stones evolved into the eye glasses we know today. So we’re pretty sure that glasses were invented in about the late 1200’s, well, over a hundred years before the printing press. But it’s not clear who exactly invented them first or exactly what year. But record shows that they were invented in both Europe and China at about the same time. By the way, we call this “independent discovery”. Independent discovery means when something is invented in different parts of the world at the same time and it’s not as unusual as it sounds. You can look at the timeline chart in the back of your textbook to see when things were invented in different cultures at about the same time to see what I’m talking about. So now let’s tie this to what I’ve said before about societal attitude towards glasses. Initially in parts of Europe and in China, glasses were a symbol of wisdom and intelligence. This is evidence in an artwork from the period. European paintings often portrayed doctors or judges wearing glasses. In China, glasses were very expensive. So in addition to intelligence, they also symbolize affluence, um, wealth. In 14th century Chinese portrays the bigger the glasses, the smarter and wealthier this subject was. So glasses [email protected] 刘刘刘刘刘刘 刘刘刘刘刘 Learn and Share 刘 92
were a steady symbol in some parts of the world. Now let’s go back to the invention of the painting press in 1440. What happened? Suddenly, books became widely available and more people wanted to read. So the need, oh well, actually not only the need but the demand for more affordable glasses rose drastically. Eventually, inexpensive glasses were produced, and then glasses were available to everyone. People could purchase them easilyfrom a traveling peddler.
- Spring '15
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