An archaeological excavation in northern Israel has unearthed glass-making kilns that date back 1,600 years, proving that ancient Israel was one of the most important centers of glass making in the world during the late Roman period.

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

Gorin-Rosen said that chemical analyses conducted on glass vessels from this period discovered at sites in Europe and at shipwrecks in the Mediterranean basin have shown that glass came from the region of Israel.

“Now, for the first time, the kilns have been found where the raw material was manufactured that was used to produce this glassware,” said Gorin-Rosen.

The discovery of the kilns has created a wave of excitement among international researchers, some of whom traveled to Israel to inspect the finds. Prof. Ian Freestone of University College London, who specializes in identifying the chemical composition of glass, stressed that the discovery had great significance to modern understanding of the international glass trade in ancient times, and reiterated that the kilns proved that Israel “constituted a production center on an international scale.”