Stone to Clay to Wood to Leather to Metal
The quest to quench a thirst has taken man in many directions to find the perfect drinking vessel. Early examples of stone and clay cups are on display in a number of museums around the globe. Later wood, bronze, silver, pewter, leather, porcelain and glass all came into use.
This evolution of the drinking vessel has its roots in a shift from the need for basic function and durability to the desire for aesthetic design and sensory pleasure. This shift mirrors mankind’s move from caves and huts to shelters that can approach mansion status.
For centuries most drinking vessels did not allow you to see the liquid, even though glass was widely available. While there were cost and durability factors involved, the plain truth is that most people did not want to see what they were drinking for fear of seeing sediment and floating debris.
Ancient Greeks had a number of specialized drinking vessels. Spartan soldiers were outfitted with a kothon, a goblet with an edge that would trap mud and other debris along its edge. Greeks often used footed bowls—the kantharos was a deep cup with handles that could be passed around a table.