Beachcombing For Apollonia Glass

Today was the end of Spring mini-break. The weather was nice, the house was as much in order as anyone could hope for, so … that there was time for one of our family's favorite off-season activities.


I am a beachcomber from way back and my kids have been beachcombers since the first time we took them all to Florida and they realized that there were shells and sharks' teeth on the beach. At one point I had so many jars of sharks' teeth that I was thinking of opening a tacky jewelry shop.

But those years are behind us know and as a result of a social fluke, we have a new passion. Searching the Herzliya beach for Apollonia glass.

Apollonia was a Crusader fortress and city located just north of what is now Herzliya. The area was first populated in or around the fifth century BCE by the Phonecians. And there was a big battle there which the Crusaders won. Since then, the Romans have been there, the Muslims have been there and I am sure others that I do not know about secured the area at one point or another. However, the ONLY important fact to me is that at one point during it's long history there was a glass factory there – about 2500 years ago.

Needless to say it is gone, but one day as I was walking along the beach by myself an older gentleman caught up to me and asked what I was looking for. I was just looking for black or white stones for my black and white stone collection, but he thought I must be looking for the ever more interesting Phoenician / Apollonia glass so he asked me if that was the case.

I told him that I had never heard of this glass and he responded by saying: "There are little pieces of it all over the place." We kept walking and talking and within about five minutes he stooped down and picked up a small piece of pale aquamarine sea glass. "Here's a piece," he said.

I took one look and I knew instantly I was on a mission to find more. I loved the color and I loved the fact that it was something really old and part of Israel's history.

That was about four years ago and I have now trained my kids to keep their eyes open for it. Zeve is particularly good at finding it. He has the personality and curiosity to wander the beach looking for it. The other two do not.

A few years ago I very gravely brave a few pieces to my brother, who also collects sea glass because he lives near the ocean in Nova Scotia. Of course his sea glass is not nearly as interesting as mine. We all can not live in the basket of civilization, can we? I hope he realized how magnanimous I was being by giving him a few pieces. Trust me, it was not easy to part with even the smallest piece.

In fact, all the pieces I have are small. What do you expect after 2500 years? Perfectly maintained slabs of the stuff? Do you have any idea how many different peoples conquered that piece of land since the years BCE? You can check my source of all knowledge, Wikipedia or you can trust me that the answer is: LOTS.

I do not go to that part of the beach often. Who has time to wander looking for minuscule scraps of glass? Not me. But when I get the chance, I am so there. I have yet to come home empty handed from a day of searching and as a result I have a very nice little collection. To me, it is more valuable than diamonds. Everyone has one of those looks.