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Archaeology in Israel: Caesarea Treasures

(May 2016)

Two Israeli amateur divers discovered a huge trove of ancient Roman treasure off of the Caesarea shoreline in the Mediterranean sea in May 2016. The divers contacted the Israeli Antiquities Authority after their initial discovery, and an underwater excavation of the site was immediately begun. It was deduced that the items had been the cargo of a Roman merchant ship that sunk approximately 1,600 years ago. A diverse array of items were discovered, including bronze lamps, thousands of coins bearing the images of Roman Emperor Constantine, figurines, statues, faucets, and the ship's water storage containers. The discovery was hailed as the largest archaeological find in Israel in 30 years.

Jacob Sharvit, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority's marine archaeology unit said the discovery was “extremely exciting,” and explained that, “the location and distribution of the ancient artifacts on the seabed indicate that a large merchant ship was carrying a cargo of metal slated to be recycled, which apparently encountered a storm at the entrance to the harbor and drifted until it smashed into the seawall and the rocks.” The ship's anchors were discovered near the ancient debris, suggesting that those on the ship staged a last-ditch attempt to prevent the ship running aground. These ancient artifacts were discovered thanks to the diminishing amount of sand in the Caesarea Harbor, which has been a result of construction further down the coastline.

Source: Hasson, Nir. “Divers Find 1,600-year-old Buried Treasure Off Israel's Coast,” Haaretz (May 16, 2016)