How long have mirrors been around?

The history of mirror production goes back thousands of years. The incentive of humanity for this is the desire to see one's own image. The most original form of the mirror image is its own reflection on a dark, smooth surface of water. However, as early as the Neolithic Age, people were themselves working as mirror manufacturers, as is shown by the finds of polished obsidian slabs in Çatalhöyük, in what is now Turkey. The people of the Bronze Age sanded metal plates smooth in order to be able to see their likeness. The manufacture of mirrors was also of great and widespread importance for spiritual purposes: in the ancient high cultures of Egypt, Babylonia and China, mirrors made of metal were mainly given to deceased women as grave goods. The first glass mirrors were made in the late Roman Empire around 300 AD. As with today's mirror production, a layer of glass was backed by metal. However, since the manufacture of colorless glass was forgotten after the end of the Roman Empire, no mirrors could be made from glass for several centuries. In the 11th century, mirror manufacturers in Italy developed convex mirrors, so-called capsule mirrors. Domed and polished metal capsules were encased in a thin layer of glass. In the 13th century, small concave mirrors were produced in Murano, the center of glass processing at that time. To do this, an alloy of lead and tin was poured into freshly blown glass flasks and then cut open. Mirror manufacture was also widespread north of the Alps from the late Middle Ages. In 1373 glassmakers founded the first guild in Nuremberg that also manufactured mirrors. In 1516, the Dal’Gallo brothers in Venice developed flat mirrors made of glass for the first time. To do this, the pioneers of modern mirror production applied a thin tin foil to the flat glass. By pouring a two to three millimeter thick layer of mercury over them, the two materials combine to form amalgam, a chemically very stable mercury alloy. The exact recipe of the Venetian mirror manufacturer was top secret. Their technique of coating mirrors made of glass with mercury was used until the 19th century. Mirror manufacturers were also active at the court of Louis XIV and further developed the flat mirrors made of glass: on a cast table made of bronze, they rolled liquid glass into flat panels with rollers. This enabled larger formats with a smoother surface and fewer inclusions. With the help of this technique of mirror production, the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles could be designed and equipped.