Israel discovers 1,200-year olive oil soap workshop
Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 1,200-year-old olive oil-soap making workshop in southern Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said Sunday.
This is the most ancient soap workshop found in Israel, exposed at an excavation site inside a wealthy home of the Islamic period in the Bedouin city of Rahat.
According to the IAA, during the soap-making process, olive oil was used as the base material mixed with ashes produced by burning saltwort plants, which contain potash and water.
The mixture was cooked for about seven days, after which the liquid material was transferred to a shallow pool, where the soap hardened for about 10 days until it could be cut into bars.
The bars were piled for additional drying, and the final products were ready after another two months.
The site discovered at Rahat displays facilities associated with this industry, allowing the archaeologists to recreate the traditional production process of the soap industry.
One of the underground spaces of the wealthy building also contained a round limestone gameboard used for a strategy game called the "Windmill," known to have existed since as early as the second and third centuries (the Roman period).
Nearby, a second gameboard known as "Hounds and Jackals," or "58 Holes" was also found.
This game was first played in Egypt and spread to other parts of the Mediterranean basin and to Mesopotamia.