Israel’s earliest soap factory, dating back approximately 1,200 years, has been uncovered in the Bedouin city of Rahat, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported on Sunday.

According to the report, hundreds of local youths were involved in the IAA dig, whose purpose was to re-establish the connection between the community and the history of the area.

“This is the first time that a soap workshop as ancient as this has been discovered, allowing us to recreate the traditional production process of the soap industry,” said IAA excavation director Elena Kogen Zehavi. “For this reason, it is quite unique. We are familiar with important soap-making centers from a much later period—the Ottoman period. These were discovered in Jerusalem, Nablus, Jaffa and Gaza.”

Rahat Mayor Fahiz Abu Saheeben said that the excavation had revealed the city’s “Islamic roots.”