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Fisherman Leaves behind Bible-Era Treasure

Numerous complete jars from thousands of years ago, long buried at sea, handed over to authorities.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/15/2014, 11:52 AM

Undersea treasure
Undersea treasure
Yuli Schwartz, courtesy IAA

It started with a phone call from Osnat Lester, a resident of Poriya Illit, to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). “Stored in my warehouse,” she said, “there are crates full of ancient jars that were left behind by a relative, a fisherman, who has passed on. I want to hand over the jars to the state, but it is important for me that my grandchildren will know where they will be kept in the future.”

Two archaeologists were dispatched to Lester's home, where they were astounded to discover a real archaeological treasure: numerous whole ancient jars – or amphoras – from different eras, wrapped in bedsheets and pieces of cloth.

The jars had apparently been carried by ancient ships that sank at sea at different eras. They were covered by a layer of encrustation that includes sea shells and chalk sediment, as is typical of findings that have been on the sea floor for a long time.

One of the amphoras was an impressive Biblical era jar from about 3,000 years ago, the archaeologists said. Other jars were from the Roman and Byzatine eras. The IAA commended Lester for her act of good citizenship and promised that the jars would be placed on display for viewing by the general public.