Israeli archaeologists find treasures in ancient wrecks

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Israel’s Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday the discovery of the remains of two shipwrecks off the Mediterranean coast, filled with a sunken treasure of hundreds of Roman and medieval silver coins.

Finds near the ancient city of Caesarea date from the Roman and Mamluk periods, around 1,700 and 600 years ago, according to archaeologists. They include hundreds of Roman silver and bronze coins dating from the mid-3rd century, as well as more than 500 silver coins from the Middle Ages found among the sediments.

Jacob Sharvit, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Marine Archeology Unit, holds finds made near the ancient city of Caesarea on display in Jerusalem on Wednesday, December 22, 2021 (AP Photo / Ariel Schalit )

They were found during an underwater investigation conducted by the IAA’s Marine Archeology Unit over the past two months, said Jacob Sharvit, head of the unit.

Other artifacts recovered from the site near the ancient city of Caesarea included figurines, bells, ceramics, and metal artifacts that once belonged to ships, such as nails and a broken iron anchor.

The IAA made its announcement days before Christmas and highlighted the discovery of a Roman gold ring, its green gemstone carved with the figure of a shepherd carrying a sheep on his shoulders.

Israel wrecks Jacob Sharvit, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Marine Archeology Unit holds finds made near the ancient city of Caesarea (AP Photo / Ariel Schalit)

Robert Kool, head of the authority’s coins department, called the article “exceptional”. “On the gemstone is engraved an image of the ‘Good Shepherd’, who is truly one of the earliest symbols of Christianity,” he said.

Sharvit said the Roman ship would have originated in Italy, based on the styling of some of the artifacts. He said it was not clear whether any remains of the wooden ships remained undisturbed under the sands.


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