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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘harbor’

Divers Discover ‘Spectacular’ Cargo of Ancient Shipwreck in Caesarea Harbor

Monday, May 16th, 2016

A fortuitous discovery before the Passover holiday by two divers in the ancient port of Caesarea has led to the revelation of a large, spectacular and beautiful ancient marine cargo of a merchant ship that sank there during the Late Roman period, about 1,600 years ago.

As soon as they emerged from the water, divers Ran Feinstein and Ofer Ra‘anan of Ra‘anana contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority and reported the discovery and the removal of several ancient items from the sea.

The rare bronze artifacts that were discovered in Caesarea. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The rare bronze artifacts that were discovered in Caesarea. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A joint dive at the site together with IAA archaeologists revealed that an extensive portion of the seabed had been cleared of sand and the remains of a ship were left uncovered on the sea bottom: iron anchors, remains of wooden anchors and items that were used in the construction and running of the sailing vessel. An underwater salvage survey conducted in recent weeks with the assistance of many divers from the Israel Antiquities Authority and volunteers using advanced equipment discovered numerous items that had been part of the ship’s cargo.

Many of the artifacts are made of bronze and are in an extraordinary state of preservation: a bronze lamp depicting the image of the sun-god Sol, a figurine of the moon goddess Luna, a lamp in the image of the head of an African slave, fragments of three life-size bronze-cast statues, objects fashioned in the shape of animals: a whale, and a bronze faucet in the shape of a wild boar with a swan on its head. Fragments of large jars were found that were used for carrying drinking water for the crew on the ship. One of the biggest surprises was the discovery of two metallic lumps composed of thousands of coins weighing about 45 lbs., Shaped like the pottery vessel in which they had been stored.

Lumps of coins that were discovered at sea, weighing a total of c. 20 kilograms. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Lumps of coins that were discovered at sea, weighing a total of c. 20 kilograms. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

This discovery comes a year after the exposure by divers and the IAA of a treasure of gold Fatimid coins, which is currently on public display at the “Time Travel” presentations in Caesarea harbor.

According to Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dror Planer, deputy director of the unit, “These are extremely exciting finds, which, apart from their extraordinary beauty, are of historical significance. The location and distribution of the ancient finds on the seabed indicate that a large merchant ship was carrying a cargo of metal slated for recycling, and apparently encountered a storm at the entrance to the harbor and drifted until it smashed into the seawall and the rocks.”

A preliminary study of the iron anchors suggests there was an attempt to stop the drifting vessel before it reached shore by casting anchors into the sea; however, these broke – evidence of the power of the waves and the wind which the ship was caught up in.

Fragment of a life-size head of a statue. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Fragment of a life-size head of a statue. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Sharvit and Planer stress that “a marine assemblage such as this has not been found in Israel in the past thirty years. Metal statues are rare archaeological finds because they were always melted down and recycled in antiquity. When we find bronze artifacts it usually happens at sea. Because these statues were wrecked together with the ship, they sank in the water and were thus ‘saved’ from the recycling process.” Sharvit and Planer added that, “in the many marine excavations that have been carried out in Caesarea only a very small number of bronze statues have been found, whereas in the current cargo a wealth of spectacular statues were found that had been in the city and were removed from it by way of the sea. The sand protected the statues; consequently they are in an amazing state of preservation – as though they were cast yesterday rather than 1,600 years ago.”

A figurine of the moon goddess Luna. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A figurine of the moon goddess Luna. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The coins that were discovered bear the image of the emperor Constantine who ruled the Western Roman Empire (312–324 CE) and was later known as Constantine the Great, ruler of the Roman Empire (324–337 CE); and of Licinius, an emperor who ruled the eastern part of the Roman Empire and was a rival of Constantine, until his downfall in the 324 CE Battle of Adrianople that was waged between the two rulers. Following the battle at Adrianople, Constantine moved to besiege Byzantium.

The ship’s anchor as it was discovered in the sea. Photographic credit: the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The ship’s anchor as it was discovered in the sea. Photographic credit: the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Sharvit, “In recent years we have witnessed many random discoveries in the harbor at Caesarea. These finds are the result of two major factors: the absence of sand on the seabed causing the exposure of ancient artifacts, and an increase in the number of divers at the site. In this particular instance, the divers demonstrated good citizenship and are deserving of praise. They will be awarded a certificate of appreciation and invited to tour the storerooms of the National Treasures. By reporting the discovery of the marine assemblage to the IAA they have made it possible for all of us to enjoy these spectacular remains from antiquity.”

Exemplary citizenship: the divers, Ran Feinstein (right) and Ofer Ra‘anan after the discovery. Photographic credit: The Old Caesarea Diving Center

Exemplary citizenship: the divers, Ran Feinstein (right) and Ofer Ra‘anan after the discovery. Photographic credit: The Old Caesarea Diving Center

The Rothschild Caesarea Foundation is a major supporter of the conservation and development of the secrets of ancient Caesarea throughout the ages. The Israel Antiquities Authority, the Nature and Parks Authority and the Caesarea Development Corporation continue working intensively on major projects around the harbor. Michael Kersenti, director-general of the Caesarea Development Corporation, notes that the recent discoveries “reiterate the uniqueness of Caesarea as an ancient port city with a history and cultural heritage that continues to surprise us, as parts of the mysteries of its past are revealed in the sea and on land. These and the cultural treasures which will be discovered in the future will be made available for viewing by the numerous visitors who come to Caesarea each year.”

JNi.Media

Assyrian Period Fortifications Unearthed in Ashdod

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

An archeological team headed by Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of Tel Aviv university has announced the discovery of one of the largest construction projects in the entire Mediterranean basin: a system of fortifications from the 8th century BCE, as well as coins, weights and parts of buildings from the Hellenistic period, have all been found in the archeological dig Tel Ashdod Yam – where the harbor of the philistine city of Ashdod used to be. The site is about 3 miles south of today’s thriving Israeli city of Ashdod.

This has been the first deep and well organized dig at the site, following the only previous dig there, carried out by the late archeologist Dr. Ya’akov Caplan in 1965-68.

The more recent dig has brought to light the remains of an 8th century BCE fortification system – a mud brick wall comprised of internal and external dykes circling a wharf. The dig has also unearthed ruins of buildings from the Hellenistic period (late 4th to early 2nd centuries BCE), as well as coins and weights.

“We knew there was an important archeological site there that hasn’t been dug until now,” Dr. Fantalkin told Walla. “We concluded the pioneer year of this project, and it’s being planned for many years to come. This is the ancient harbor of the Philistine city of Ashdod, We found there a very impressive fortification system comprised of 18 ft. tall mud brick walls. This brick wall is the core of a system of dykes that are combined into a huge, horseshoe shaped fortification, protecting a man-made pier.”

A three dimensional photograph of the ruins from the Hellenistic period, 2nd century BCE. Photo credit: Philip Sapirstein / TAU

A three dimensional photograph of the ruins from the Hellenistic period, 2nd century BCE. Photo credit: Philip Sapirstein / TAU

Dr. Fantalkin said his team was surprised by the degree of preservation of these structures, from some 2,750 years ago. They’re only now beginning to come to terms with the magnitude of what they’ve discovered.

An Assyrian governor ruled the southern Mediterranean basin in a time that was mired in power struggles and wars. Assyrian texts do describe a Philistine rebellion against Assyrian rule at the end of that period. Dr. Fantalkin believes the fortifications he discovered are related, one way or another, to the events on record.

“The Assyrians ruled firmly here from the middle of the 8th Century BCE,” he said. “It’s not clear if the fortifications were built by the Assyrians themselves or by the local who were commanded by the Assyrians.”

“Following the Philistine rebellion, the Assyrians sent down an army in 712 BCE, and the rebelling king fled to Egypt,” he continued. “The Assyrians demanded the Egyption extradite him, which they did. The entire affair is mentioned both in the Bible and in Assyrian sources. (For Gaza will be abandoned And Ashkelon a desolation; Ashdod will be driven out at noon And Ekron will be uprooted. Zephaniah 2:4) The rebellion was put down forcefully by the Assyrians and the city of Ashdod was destroyed.”

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/assyrian-period-fortifications-unearthed-in-ashdod/2013/08/15/

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