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Jerusalem - Archeological ‘Missing Link’ Proves Israel Was World Center Of Ancient Glass Trade

Published on: April 11, 2016 10:33 PM
By: Jesse Lempel/TPS
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Excavation director Abdel Al-Salam Sa‘id examining one of the glass chunks found in the area. (Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)Excavation director Abdel Al-Salam Sa‘id examining one of the glass chunks found in the area. (Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Jerusalem - A first-of-its-kind accidental discovery of ancient glass kilns at the foot of Mt. Carmel demonstrates that Israel was at the center of the global glass trade during the late Roman period, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Monday, April 11.

The extraordinary kilns, which are approximately 1,600 years old, are “the earliest found in Israel and the missing link for the production and export of glass,” Yael Gorin-Rosen, head curator of the Israel Antiquities Authority Glass Department, told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

The kilns were discovered by chance last summer during construction of a new railway line to the northern city of Haifa, when the on-site archeologist, Abdel Al-Salam Sa’id, noticed peculiar shards of glass and ash. Sa’id immediately halted the construction and called Gorin-Rosen, who quickly arrived at the scene.


Stunned, she uttered a simple “Wow,” Gorin-Rosen recalled to TPS. “I was very, very excited.”

“The Valley of Acre was renowned for the excellent quality of sand located there, which was highly suitable for the manufacturing of glass” she explained. This glass traveled the ancient world, Gorin-Rosen said, noting that vessels made in Israel were “discovered at sites in Europe and in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean basin.”

Small fragments of the raw glass as they were found at the site. (Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)Small fragments of the raw glass as they were found at the site. (Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)

“Now, for the first time, the kilns have been found where the raw material was manufactured,” Gorin-Rosen said.

“This is a sensational discovery,” said Professor Ian Freestone of the University College London, a specialist in the chemical composition of glass who came to Israel to inspect the new find. “It is of great significance for understanding the entire system of the glass trade in antiquity. This is evidence that Israel constituted a production center on an international scale.”

The newly discovered kilns contain two compartments, a firebox and a melting chamber, where clean beach sand and salt were inserted and melted together at a temperature of about 1,200 degrees Celsius (or 2,000 Fahrenheit). This produced enormous chunks of glass, some weighing as much as ten tons.

An edict issued by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the early fourth century CE, refers to two kinds of glass: Judean and Alexandrian. The Judean glass, originating from Israel, was a light green color and less expensive than its contemporary Egyptian, Alexandrian counterpart.

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Read Comments (2)  —  Post Yours »


 Apr 12, 2016 at 05:50 AM Anonymous Says:

I hope that the fact that person who discovered this important find, Abdel Al-Salam Sa‘id, is an Israeli Arab who works as an inspector for the Israeli Antiquities Authority.


 Apr 12, 2016 at 06:44 AM Shlomo-1 Says:

Obviously a Zionist plot. You must mean the missing link for the ancient Palestinian glass works.


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