Archaeologists in Israel recently excavated the country’s oldest glass factory, which dates back to the 4th century CE, according to Discovery News. The find suggests that in the Late Roman period, Israel was a manufacturing powerhouse, providing vast quantities of the fragile export for use across the Roman Empire. In turn, Romans used the glass to make storage vessels, light fixtures, mosaics, and windows, among other objects.

Last summer, archaeologists were excavating a site where a new rail line was slated for construction in the southeast of Haifa, near Mount Carmel. There, they unearthed chunks of glass, a floor, and four collapsed 1600-year-old kilns, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports. Each kiln was capable of producing at least 10 tons of raw glass in a single manufacturing process.

The discovery predates a hoard of 6th- and 7th-century CE kilns that were found at the ancient city of Apollonia, once considered to be the nation’s earliest evidence of glassmaking, LiveScience reports.

“This is the oldest factory discovered in Israel, and it was built with the best technology,” Yael Gorin-Rosen, the head curator of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s glass department, told Haaretz. “According to written sources, we knew there was glass made in the region, but we didn’t find the kilns until now.”

Watch a video detailing the exciting find above, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

[h/t Discovery News]

Banner image credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority