Origins of ordinary things: Mirrors

When most people think of mirrors, they mostly think of them as the reflective glass in which they self-assess before leaving their houses. In fact, some people will not step out until they have looked at themselves at least five times.

When most people think of mirrors, they mostly think of them as the reflective glass in which they self-assess before leaving their houses. In fact, some people will not step out until they have looked at themselves at least five times.

This is quite fitting because when mirrors first came to be, they were purely designed to fulfill the desire of human beings to look at their own reflections. The word “mirror” is derived from the Latin word “mirari” which means “to admire.” This is according to Etymology, a web-based platform for origins of words.

Before mirrors, people used pools of water, ponds, streams and rivers as reflective surfaces. This is according to the web-based Mirror History. The first mirrors were made in Turkey from polished Obsidian, a natural volcanic glass and they date as far back as 6000BC.

From there on, several improvements in materials for making mirrors were made. In 4000BC Mesopotamia for instance, people used mirrors made of polished copper. In 2000BC, the Chinese started making bronze mirrors. This is according to the online education platform Today I Found Out.

Egyptian mirrors of 2900BC were also made of polished bronze, in the shape of sun in honor of Re-god of the sun. At this point, the mirrors were all small and portable. From 4BC to 65BC, the Greek started making mirrors that were big enough to reflect the entire body. These mirrors had ornaments representing gods and goddesses associated with desire, love and beauty. This is according to the web-based Furniture Library.

Glass was the latest material to be used for making mirrors. It was the most desirable material because of its natural smoothness but it needed to be coated with metal in order to increase its reflectivity. According to Wikipedia the free online encyclopedia, metal coated glass mirrors were first made in Sidon-modern day Lebanon in 1st century AD.

Until the 19th century, mirrors were an expensive luxury that only the rich could afford. This, according to Live Science an online knowledge platform, changed when in 1835 Justus von Liebig a German chemist developed the process of putting a thin layer of metallic silver on glass. This enabled mass production.

Today, mirrors have varied functions. For instance, they are used in instruments such as telescopes and cameras. They are also used in cars for road safety. However, they are still largely used for personal grooming and beauty, the purpose for which they were first made.

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