The Growth of Trade
As people made their way around the world, goods were transported greater distances and so there was a need for vessels to carry these goods. Certain commodities are particularly identified with trade across great distances: perfumes, spices, wine, precious metals and textiles, and, later, coffee and tea. Merchants, missionaries, nomads, and soldiers traded such goods along early intercontinental trade routes linking Europe and Asia, the Silk Road being the most notable. Crusaders traded along routes between Europe and the Middle East. Such activity created the need for a wide variety of packaging to contain, protect, identify, and distinguish products along the way.
Hollow gourds and animal bladders were the precursors of glass bottles, and animal skins and leaves were the forerunners of paper bags and plastic wrap. Skilled artisans handcrafted ceramic bottles, jars, urns, containers, and other decorative receptacles to house incense, perfume, and ointments, as well as beer and wine (fig. 1.5).
In the twelfth and thirteen centuries, an identifiable merchant class, concerned with moving products from one locale to another, began to appear. Buying and selling goods, as opposed to farming or crafting material necessities, thus became a way to make a living.
Along with the merchant classes came an interest in the wider world and increased demand for goods from faraway places.