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      Mediterranean Returns Lost Roman Statue to Ashkelon

      The choppy winter sea has uncovered an ancient archaeological treasure on the storm-swept coast of Ashkelon.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 12/15/2010, 4:34 PM / Last Update: 12/15/2010, 6:15 PM

      Flash 90

      Last weekend's brutal winter weather brought with it an unexpected benefit along the coast of Ashkelon. The choppy waves that battered the shore uncovered an archaeological treasure: a white marble Roman statue of a woman clad in a toga and sandals. Journalists and photographers were invited to the site to see the finely-detailed work of art on Tuesday.

      Standing 1.2 meters (4 feet) tall, the statue was found in the remains of a cliff that had crumbled under the gale-force winds. Discovered near the ancient port after the tides had returned to normal, an official with the Israel Antiquities Authority said the statue will be displayed in various museums.

      Dated to approximately 1,800 to 2,000 years ago – the period in which the Romans occupied western Judea -- the statue weighed 200 kg (440 lb) and had no head or arms.

      “The sea gave us this amazing statue,” Yigal Israeli, a researcher with the Israel Antiquities Authority told the Reuters news service. He added that other artifacts may have washed out into the ocean due to the same storm, however.

      Fragments of mosaics and bits from a Roman bath house were also recovered at the site. (Israel news photos: Flash 90)