A small and rare anchor, estimated to be 1700 years old, was returned to the state treasures as part of the “If it’s ancient, give it with back a click” operation of the Ministry of Heritage and the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The name sounds so much better in Hebrew: “Im zeh atik, machzirim b’click.” I tried to make it rhyme in English, but the only word that rhymes with “ancient” is “patient.” I gave up.
Back in 1996, Moshe was diving at Palmahim Beach (also the Yavne-Yam antiquities site), when he came across an anchor on the seabed. At first, he was not sure what it was, since it was covered in a clutch of pebbles and shells, but when he cleaned it, he realized he had discovered (and acquired) an ancient anchor.
This week, following the announcement of the IAA and Heritage Ministry of operation “If it’s ancient, give it with a click,” Moshe came to one of the IAA delivery points and returned the anchor, so that professional archaeologists may examine its origin and meaning, and preserve it in proper conditions.
The operation, which ends today, is calling on Israeli citizens to hand over ancient items in their possession to the IAA. It seeks to increase the public’s awareness of antiquities and their importance and to retrieve valuable antiquities that are in the public’s possession.
According to Kobi Sharvit, Director of the Maritime Archeology Unit at the IAA, “This is a small anchor from the Roman period, which may have been used to moor a fishing ship. These anchors begin to appear in the 1st century BCE, and up to the 3rd century CE. We find many ancient anchors in the sea, but in this case, it is an extremely small anchor, whose size and weight are absolutely rare. It’s not as if there were no small anchors in antiquity, but we have discovered only a few. This may be attributed to the fact that when a small ship got into trouble at sea, the lightweight anchor could be pulled back to the ship, so there was no need to abandon it.”
“The Yavne-Yam anchorage, where––according to the report given by Moshe––the ancient anchor was located, underwent upheavals during the Roman period. In the book of Hashmonaim II, it is written that after Judah the Maccabee had learned that the residents of Yavneh were plotting to sink the ships of their Jewish neighbors, he and his army raided the anchorage, and set fire to all the ships that were anchored there,” Sharvit explained.
“We thank Moshe for his good citizenship,” Sharvit added. “The finding of this unique anchor provides us with additional information about the maritime conduct in the Land of Israel during the Roman period. Unfortunately, cleaning the anchor with modern chemicals damaged it, and we at the IAA hope to be able to stabilize its condition.”
“This reminds us of how important it is that ancient finds be reported to the IAA upon their discovery. One of the most important rules when it comes to discoveries at sea is to leave the find in place, take a GPS location, and report it to us immediately. Taking finds out of the water and separating them from their archaeological context without the prerequisite documentation results in the loss of valuable information.”