Metal artifacts, the earliest of which are 3,500 years old, were recently presented to the Israel Antiquities Authority by a family that inherited them from their father who passed away.
The Mazliah family of Givatayim contacted a representative of the IAA and invited him to their home to examine numerous metal artifacts that were in the possession of their father, the late Marcel Mazliah. The family explained that their father, who was employed at the Hadera power station since its construction, retrieved many items from the sea while working there, and they thought the items looked pretty ancient. Indeed, the IAA representatives were surprised by what they found: metal objects, most of which are decorated, that apparently fell overboard from a metal merchant’s ship in the Early Islamic period.
According to Ayala Lester, a curator with the IAA, “The finds include a toggle pin and the head of a knife from the Middle Bronze Age (more than 3,500 years ago). The other items, among them two mortars and two pestles, and fragments of candlesticks, date to the Fatimid period (11th century CE). The items were apparently manufactured in Syria and were brought to Israel. The finds are evidence of the metal trade that was conducted during this period.”
Among the many artifacts is a hand grenade that was common in Israel during the Crusader, Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. The first grenades appeared in the Byzantine Empire, not long after the reign of Leo III (717-741). Byzantine soldiers learned that Greek fire, a Byzantine invention of the previous century, could be thrown at the enemy inside stone and ceramic jars. Later, glass containers were employed. The use of Greek fire and other explosives spread to Muslim armies in the Middle East, and reached China by the 10th century.
The Mazliah family will receive a certificate of appreciation from the Israel Antiquities Authority and will be invited to tour the IAA’s laboratories where finds undergo treatment and conservation.