Archaeologists Discover Israel’s Oldest-Known Glass Factory

Turquoise-colored fragments of raw glass were found at what archaeologists are calling the oldest known glass factory in Israel.
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Archaeologists Discover Israel’s Oldest-Known Glass Factory:

Turquoise-colored fragments of raw glass were found at what archaeologists are calling the oldest known glass factory in Israel.
Turquoise-colored fragments of raw glass were found at what archaeologists are calling the oldest known glass factory in Israel.

Archaeologists say they have unearthed the oldest known glass factory in Israel, dating back to the 4th century A.D.

The discovery of turquoise chunks of raw glass and collapsed, ash-covered kilns provide the 1st archaeological evidence of glass production in Israel during the Late Roman period.

“We know from historical sources dating to the Roman era that the Valley of Akko was renowned for the excellent-quality sand located there, which was highly suitable for the manufacture of glass,” said Yael Gorin-Rosen, head curator of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) glass department.

The chemical makeup of ancient glass vessel found throughout the Mediterranean region and Europe suggested the objects were produced in this region of Israel, Gorin-Rosen added.

Archaeologist also previously discovered fragments of an edict with maximum prices of goods set by the 4th-century Roman emperor Diocletian.

This edict listed prices for 2 kinds of glass: light green, less expensive, Judean glass from Israel; and Alexandrian glass from Egypt. It was not clear, however, where the Judean glass was produced.

“Now, for the 1st time, the kilns have been discovered where the raw material was manufactured that was used to produce this glassware,” Gorin-Rosen said in a statement.

The kilns were excavated last summer, ahead of the constructions of a new railway line southeast of Haifa, near Mount Carmel.

“We exposed fragments of floors, pieces of vitrified brick from the walls and ceiling of the kilns, and clean, raw glass chips,” Abdel Al-Salam Sa’id, an inspector with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who directed the excavation, said in the statement.

“We were absolutely overwhelmed with excitement when we understood the great significance of the find.”

To make glass at the time, people would have heated sand in a melting chamber to temperatures of 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit (1,200 Celsius degrees) for at least a week, according to the IAA.

Sometimes the raw chunk of glass that were produced weighed more than 10 tons. But inevitably these chunks would have been broken into smaller pieces to be sold to workshop, where they would be melted down again to be blown in to glass bowls, cups and other vessels.

The newly found  kilns predate the 6th-7th century A.D. kilns that were found at Apollonia, which were previously thought to be the oldest glass kilns in Israel.

The fourth-century kilns were exposed ahead of construction of a new railway line southeast of Haifa, near Mount Carmel.
The fourth-century kilns were exposed ahead of construction of a new railway line southeast of Haifa, near Mount Carmel.

Source: mentalfloss


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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.