Primitive homes were made to meet the basic need of shelter. Because of crude tools and architecture, windows were simply holes in the wall. Over time, different materials were used to cover these holes to allow sunlight to pass through. Animal skins, cloth, and wooden window dressings were the technology available early on. Windows that are most similar to ours today was first used by Romans. Fitting glass in windows has been traced back to 100 AD, in Alexandria.
Ancient glass making
The windows were small and the glass was thick. The method for making sheets was to blow a round, glass jar. While hot, the jar was flattened. As a result, circular lines appeared throughout. This method of glass making continued for nearly a thousand years. Civilization developed the technology to eventually create ornate stained glass windows. Medieval Europe, from the 10th to the 16th century, had churches and aristocratic homes decorated with colourful windows.
Even though glass wasn’t a common option, people had ingenious methods to cover their windows. Mullion windows allowed for small pieces of material to be connected to form a larger covering. Mullions are vertical pillars that provide structural support and visual interest. Leading, animal horn, and marble were popular choices. Horns were flattened and would become translucent, allowing some light to pass through their porous material. Marble can be sliced thinly with similar effect.
Prior to the industrial revolution, paper was not as readily available. Still, people were able to manufacture it by hand. Although paper is not as durable as animal skin, it can be pounded thinly. It’s not see-through, but light can pass through easily. In early Asian countries, paper was frequently used for windows.
In addition to small windows, the shapes available were also limited. Romans favoured square or rectangular. The typical Egyptian style featured wide windows spanning the wall. In depictions of buildings from that time, doors and windows were covered by woven mats.
Before the invention of electricity, rooms relied on windows and lamps for lighting. Furthermore, good airflow can help control room temperature and promote better health. Today, we are able to control airflow and the level of light we let into our homes. Other features, such as insulation and privacy have also been addressed through developments in architecture and glassmaking.