Israeli archaeologists find hundreds of precious antiquities in shipwrecks

The Washington Post

Democracy Dies in Darkness

Artifacts uncovered off the Mediterranean coast are displayed Dec. 22 at a lab in Jerusalem. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of rare antiquities were discovered off the Mediterranean coast of Israel, archaeologists there said Wednesday.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said the artifacts were found in recent months as its Marine Archaeology Unit explored the remains of two ships that sank roughly 1,700 and 600 years ago off the coast of Caesarea. Shipwreck materials were discovered on the bottom of shallow waters.

In a statement posted on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website, the IAA highlighted some of the findings from the search, including coins, bells, gemstones and figurines from the third-century Roman and 14th-century Mameluke periods — and a gold ring the authority said bore an image of the “good shepherd” that was used by early Christians to symbolize Jesus.

The archaeologists also uncovered a red gemstone they believe to have been the property of one of those who perished in the shipwreck. The carved image is that of a lyre. This instrument is significant to both Jewish and Greek traditions.

The search uncovered “hundreds of silver and bronze Roman coins from the mid-third century CE,” the release said, as well as about 560 “silver coins from the Mamluk period.”

Jacob Sharvit and Dror Planer of the Marine Archaeology Unit speculated that the ships were anchored near Caesarea when they sank due to a storm, possibly as people on board tried to maneuver them into the port.

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