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Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered the remains of 1,600-year-old glass kilns (Late Roman period) in the Jezreel Valley, Israel.

According to Dr. Yael Gorin-Rosen, head curator of the IAA’s Glass Department, these kilns indicate that Israel was one of the foremost centers for glass production in the ancient world. The kilns consisted of two built compartments: a firebox where kindling was burnt to create a very high temperature, and a melting chamber – in which the raw materials for the glass (clean beach sand and salt) were inserted and melted together at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Celsius. The glass was thus heated for a week or two until enormous chunks of raw glass were produced, some of which weighed in excess of 10 tons. At the end of the process the kilns were cooled. The large glass chunks that were manufactured were broken into smaller pieces and were sold to workshops where they were melted again in order to produce glassware.

“This is a very important discovery with implications regarding the history of the glass industry both in Israel and in the entire ancient world,” Dr. Gorin-Rosen said. “We know from historical sources dating to the Roman period that the Valley of Akko was renowned for the excellent quality sand located there, which was highly suitable for the manufacture of glass.”

“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 this glassware.”

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