Thursday, January 16, 2014

Follow me and I will make you fishers of artifacts.

In Israel, as in many other Middle East countries, one cannot dig anywhere without bringing up some trinket from the past. Dig up some ground for a vegetable garden and you will most certainly find pieces of ancient pottery. You might even find something significant, like a hoard of gold (up see here). I once had a student "kick-up" a coin from the Arab period while walking down a dirt road in Israel. The long history of occupation in that part of the world has left plenty of evidence behind. 

But one would not normally think about finding artifacts in the sea. A man in Israel who earned his living from the sea also obtained a nice collection of ancient jugs over the years. From time to time as he was pulling in his nets he would find an ancient jug in the net along with the fish. But he didn't know the jugs were ancient. 

Osnat Lester of Poriya Ilit contacted the Antiquities Authority a few days ago to say that she had several old jugs in her storage closet that had been left to her by a relative who was a fisherman. Two archaeologists from the authority went to her house to check out the collection, and were stunned to discover a real archaeological treasure.
The cloth-wrapped vessels displayed the characteristic pitting of artifacts that have been underwater for many years. The archaeologists said they probably came from some of the ships that have been wrecked off the coast throughout history.
Among the most stunning findings was a unique storage vessel characteristic of the late Biblical period, some 3,000 years ago. It has high basket handles and impressive dimensions. There were also vessels from the Roman period, some 2,000 years ago, as well as the Byzantine period, about 1,500 years ago. The vessels held wine and other products.
“He was a na├»ve fisherman whose entire world was fishing,” Lester said. “He loved whatever he drew from the water. The fish he ate, and the vessels he kept. He thought they were pretty and could perhaps decorate the house. He never imagined that they were ancient 
You can read the full story here.