Washington - British and German archaeologists have found an ancient glassworks in Egypt, believed to date back to around 1250 BC, according to a study published on Thursday in Science magazine.

The site, at Qantir-Piramesses on the eastern Nile Delta, suggests that Mesopotamia may not have been the sole cradle of glassmaking from raw material, say the study's authors, British archaeologist Thilo Rehren, of University College London, and German colleague Edgar Pusch, of the Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, Germany.

The artefacts discovered at the site suggest that raw materials - quartz powder mixed with carbonate and other ingredients - was first partially reheated in recipients possibly made from recycled beer jars.

In a second phase the glass was tinted, often red by using copper, and heated in special crucibles then transformed into round ingots then exported to other workshops to be reheated and made into decorative objects.

Often they became perfume jars and containers for other liquids, said the archaeologists.

A British archaeologist from the University of Sheffield, Caroline Jackson, said the discovery was "highly significant".

She said the trade of glass probably played an important role in political changes of the Near East, Middle East and Mediterranean during the late Bronze age. - Sapa-AFP