The chunks of raw glass are the first evidence of glass production in Israel during the Late Roman period
Archeologists have recently unearthed the oldest known glass kilns and glass remains of Israel.
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The broken pieces of glass have been discovered near the city of Haifa and are estimated to be 1600 years old, providing the first archeological evidence of glass production in Israel during Late Roman period.
These kinds of glassworks have been recovered in other parts of the world before but not in Israel. Thus, the discovery rewrites the history of glass production in the region and points to the fact that Israel was one of the earliest glassmaking countries in the ancient world.
“We know from historical sources dating to Roman period that the Valley of ‘Akko was renowned for the excellent quality of sand located there, which was highly suitable for the manufacture of glass,” said Yael Gorin-Rosen, head curator of the Israel Antiquities Authority Glass Department.
“Chemical analyses conducted on glass vessels from this period, which were discovered until now at sites in Europe and in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean basin, have shown that the source of the glass is from our region. Now, for the first time, the kilns have been found where the raw material was manufactured that was used to produce the glassware.”
The turquoise-colored chunks of raw glass alongside ash-covered kilns were discovered last summer when the construction of railroad was underway in the region. Construction was halted and excavation was started and some of the remarkable remnants were unearthed. Researchers found two compartments in the kilns, a chamber where fire was created at extremely high temperatures and the other where beach sand and salt were melted for week until enormous chunks of raw glass are produced. Then these massive chunks were broken into smaller pieces and melted again by workshops in order to produce glassware.
The final product which was the light green colored Judean glass was not only produced and used in Israel but was widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean and Europe.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed with excitement when we understood the great significance of the finds.” Archeologist Abdel Al-Salam Sa’id who was overseeing the construction work said.
The newfound glass kilns and remnants predate the previous earliest glass production kilns that were found at Apollonia and belonged to 6th or early 7th century.