Most people think of the Roman Empire in terms of its great military might but Rome is also known for its many amazing innovations in science, engineering, and culture such ancient Roman mirrors. One of the most overlooked innovations during the days of ancient Rome was the proper effective developments of mirrors. Rome was known for truly enhancing the craftsmanship of the mirror. Many of the innovations in the development of mirrors that we take for granted today can trace their origins to Roman improvements on a seemingly simple concept.
Mirrors had existed in history in one form or another long prior to the Roman Empire. Glass mirrors with metal coating made their way to Rome via the Middle East. These mirrors were utilized to a great extent in ancient Rome. Eventually, certain improvements to the mirror were made. Glass mirrors that were backed by golf leaves became popular. A unique method for creating far less expensive mirrors entailed pouring molten lead over glass that had been recently blown. This less expensive approach made the mirrors more accessible to the populace. Not everyone in Rome was wealthy or a noble. As such, there was a strong need for an inexpensive and easily replaceable mirror.
The mirror was quite important in ancient Rome because cleanliness and grooming were highly valued in the empire. (This is why public baths were so popular) It would be quite difficult to maintain cleanliness without access to a mirror. To help attain such goals, mirrors were hung in many public placed during the days of ancient Rome.
Some of these mirrors have survived over the centuries. Amazingly, many of them have not lost their luster even though 2,000 years have passed since they were first created.