The Washington Post was among many publications reporting this stunning find of a 1,700-year-old Roman shipwreck. -Editor
For Ran Feinstein and Ofer Ra'anan, two friends on a diving trip off of the Israeli coast, what began as a typical Mediterranean
excursion took a stunning turn.
The two men spied a castaway sculpture sitting amid the rocks and silt on the seabed. This was no average oceanic detritus. The figure,
it started to dawn on the divers, must have been ancient. Indeed, according to the archaeologists, it's the largest cache of Roman objects
to be found in Israel in 30 years.
“It took us a couple of seconds to understand what was going on,” Ra'anan told the Associated Press. The duo realized the sculpture
wasn't alone — this spot was rife with hoary items. They had found the remnants of a Roman merchant ship, lost at sea some 1,600 years ago
near Caesarea, a harbor city perched on the Israeli coast roughly 30 miles north of Tel Aviv.
Recognizing the artifacts belonged in a museum, or were at the very least covered by Israel's Law of Antiquities, the divers contacted
the state-run Antiquities Authority. When the government archaeologists arrived at the site, what they beheld almost defied belief: a
bronze lamp featuring Sol, the sun deity; several iron anchors; a statue of moon goddess Luna; jugs for drinking fresh water at sea; a
whale figurine; and an item the Antiquities Authority described in a news release as a “bronze faucet in the form of a wild boar with a
swan on its head.”
Perhaps the most surprising finds are two large masses of metal, thousands of coins clotted together in the ceramic jars that once held
them. The 1,600-year-old coin clusters tip the scales at about 44 pounds. Based on the coins, the archaeologists have a rough idea of when the
merchant ship sank. It was a time when the Roman Empire was on the cusp of Christianity. Some coins bear the visage of Constantine the Great, the
ruler of the western half the Roman Empire who converted it into a new, holier-than-before version in the early 4th century. Other coins show
Licinius, whom the Israel Antiquities Authority describes as Constantine's rival Roman ruler to the east, who reigned from A.D. 324 to 337.
The find is remarkable for two reasons, the archaeologists say. First, the objects are well-preserved and were only recently exposed on
the ocean floor. Covered in a layer of sand, the figures and coins show little evidence of the nearly 2,000 years that have passed. And
second, because the Romans frequently melted down metal statues to recast them anew, few such figures exist today.
The accident was, ultimately, the artifacts' salvation.“Because these statues were wrecked together with the ship,” Sharvit and Dror
said, “they sank in the water and were thus ‘saved' from the recycling process.”
To read the complete article, see:
Two divers discover 1,600-year-old Roman shipwreck and priceless treasures off of Israel's coast
Robert Hoge sent this Fox News Science article. thanks. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Treasure trove found
in ancient sunken cargo ship off Israel
Wayne Homren, Editor
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