Israeli archaeologists find impressive Roman-era pottery workshop in Galilee

The Land of Israel is full of thousands of important historical sites and this discovery is no less important as this is the first time archaeologists have found a kiln hewn entirely out of the bedrock.

Israeli archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have recently unearthed a 1,600-year-old Roman era pottery workshop in the Western Galilee where jars were manufactured.

The kiln is the only one known to date in Israel to have been hewn entirely out of the bedrock.

The site was found by chance during a clearing of the area for the construction of a new neighborhood at the town of Shlomi.

“What makes the pottery works so special is its unique kiln, which was hewn in bedrock and is unlike most of the kilns known to us that were built of stone, earth and mud,” said Joppe Gosker, excavation director on behalf of the IAA.

The ancient workshop included a water storage system and storage compartments.

“The kiln was meticulously constructed,” Gosker pointed out.

The kiln consisted of two chambers. One was a firebox, in which branches were inserted for kindling, and in the second chamber the pottery vessels were placed inside the oven and fired in the scorching heat.

The ceramic debris found around the kiln indicates that two types of vessels were manufactured there: storage jars that were used for transported overland, and jars with large handles that were used to store wine or oil, which were exported from Israel by sea.

“We can explain the quarrying of this rare kiln right here because of the special geological conditions found in the area,” Anastasia Shapiro, a geologist with the IAA, explained. “Here there is chalk bedrock, which on the one hand is soft and therefore easily quarried, and on the other is sufficiently strong to endure the intense heat”.

The Bat el-Jabal antiquities site, where the pottery workshop was exposed, is slated to become an archaeological park.

Broader archaeological surveys performed in the area have documented remains of a royal structure with a gate, probably from the Late Roman period, which coincides with the use of the pottery workshop.

In addition, remains of the walls of buildings were identified, probably dating to the Byzantine period, during which the kiln was used as well.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News