• Issue: August 1964
  • Designer: C. Menusy & Ch. Ornan
  • Plate no.: 118 - 120
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

Glass Museum

The Museum Center of Tel Aviv - Museum Haaretz - is situated on the hill which rises on the north bank of the Yarkon river. The first of the buildings to go up there was the Glass Museum. It is remarkable for its circular shape and cladding of green tiles.

The founder of the museum, Dr. Walter Moses, assembled within a few years a splendid glass collection ranging in date from the 2nd millennium BCE to the Islamic period and reflecting the various phases of ancient glass history, the different glass techniques, and diverse fashions of the local glass industries. Dr. Moses presented his entire collection of antiquities to the Municipality of Tel Aviv, which later built the Glass Museum.

Israel is closely linked with the history of glass and this is hinted at already in Moses' blessing: "And of Zebulun, he said, Rejoice in thy going out... For they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures in the sand" (Deut. 33:18-19). Commenting on this verse in tractate Megillah Rav Yosef says that these hidden treasures of the sands are fish, snails and white glass.

Ancient "tels" and burial tombs in this country have yielded glass vessels ranging in date from the beginning of glass-making to the later centuries of the Islamic period. At the ancient sites of Lakhish, Beth She'an, Bet Shemesh, and Hatsor were found polychrome glasses from the Canaanite period (16th-13th centuries BCE), which coincides with the earliest period of glass history.

In the first millennium BCE glass manufacture spread to all the countries of the Mediterranean - and even beyond to the north and west. The glasses of the era are commonly called after the Plnoenicians. This ancient people was settled on the coast of Syria-Palestine and had established trading colonies along most of the Mediterranean seabord. The Phoenicians, who had a share in glass manufacture in this period, through their trading activities were doubtless instrumental in spreading these glasses all over the ancient world.

Before the 1st millennium BCE glass vessels were made by an involved method somewhat reminiscent of modeling potter's clay. Glass-blowing was started in the 1st century CE and its birthplace can be located in our region : that is, somewhere along the eastern Mediterranean coastal strip. Contemporary Roman historians mention Acre (Akko) as well as the coastal plain north of the Carmel range as centers of glass manufacture; and indeed the Glass Museum has a fine representation of mould-blown "Sidonian" vessels from this period.

Glass-blowing led to the production of cheaper and more utilitarian vessels, which are similar in shape to our own glasses. In the Roman era, when most of the ancient world was united within a single political framework, the manufacture of glass became diffused all over the empire. The uniformity of glass shapes and decorations in this period are quite astounding and attest to the unceasing traffic of craftsmen and vessels from one part of the empire to the other, generally from the east - the birthplace of glass-making - in the direction of the west.

In the 4th century CE one encounters an interesting group of polygonal vessels with impressed Jewish symbols. Outstanding among these is the seven-branched candelabrum Other symbols occurring include the palm tree, portals, etc.

With the crystalization of its art at the end of the 1st millenium CE, lslamic civilization witnessed the revival and perfection of several earlier glass techniques. Outstanding examples are glass-cutting and lapidary work, as well as the production of colored inlay glass. But the highest achievement of Islamic glass art is contained in the often sumptuously enameled glasses. They represent, in effect, the final phase of ancient glass history in the east. The following modern era is marked by the predominance of European glass.

Ancient glass vessels from the Museum Haaretz collection were chosen as themes for the Jewish Festival 5725 - 1964 stamps. The three vases depicted are from the Roman period (1st-3rd centuries CE).

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Festivals 1964