Glass is a man-made material that was first produced in the Near East around 4,000 years ago. Since then, its unique qualities have not ceased to captivate people the world over. The astonishing process by which ordinary sand is transformed into a translucent and colorful substance became a metaphor for the magic and mystery of creation.
The earliest glass vessels were made in Mesopotamia and Egypt around 3,500 years ago. Some 1,500 years later, glassworkers living on the Eastern Mediterranean coast somewhere between Sidon and Akko uncovered the secrets of glassblowing – the remarkable fusion of matter, fire, and human breath that revolutionized the craft.
The Israel Museum houses hundreds of rare ancient glass items, which despite their fragility, have survived the ravages of time. The nucleus of our holdings was donated by Eliahu Dobkin, an avid and astute collector of ancient glass. Over the years, this core collection was supplemented by other important gifts, as well as items excavated locally. The Museum's gallery tells the story of ancient glassworking through outstanding examples from our collection. It presents the breathtaking beauty of the glassware of this region and underscores its crucial role in glass history.