Photo Credit: Karem Said / Israel Antiquities Authority
Stav Meir with the slab of marble

Stav Meir, 13, a resident of Caesarea, went out a week ago with his father Zohar, his brothers and cousins, to look for mushrooms after the rains. He noticed a marble slab an inscription in Greek protruding from the ground and called his father over.

“I immediately recognized that it was something ancient,” Stav, a seventh-grader, said. Turns out he had studied archaeology in school as part of an Israel Antiquities Authority program, and now, he said, “I can easily identify antiquities when I see them.”

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The excited Stav reported his discovery to the IAA which sent over its local archaeologist in Caesarea, Dr. Peter Gendelman, who came over to collect the find.

According to Dr. Gendelman, “this is a burial inscription – a marble slab with an inscription engraved in Greek, and adorned with a cross. The slab, which apparently indicated the grave’s location in the cemetery and the identity of the deceased, reads: ‘The grave of […] and of Anastasius, or Anastasia.'”

Gendelman added that, “in ancient times, Caesarea was already a center of attraction for a wealthy population (much as it remains today – DI). The quality of the slab discovered by Stav indicates the wealthy status of the entombed person, as well as the customs and beliefs of the inhabitants of Caesarea in the Byzantine period. This inscription joins a large collection of burial inscriptions previously discovered around ancient Caesarea.”

During the Byzantine period, the rich of Caesarea built magnificent mansions in the suburbs of the city, enjoying life in the countryside only a short carriage hop away from the bustling city. To this day, sections of five magnificent mansions have been discovered, each sprawling over an extensive area.

According to Karem Said, Haifa District Archaeologist at the IAA, “the country’s recent rainstorms have uncovered archaeological finds that were buried in the ground. The IAA is pleased and proud with Stav’s good citizenship, and the real-life application of the knowledge he has acquired with us in the classroom and in the field. The finding of this inscription enriches archaeological knowledge and our understanding of ancient Caesarea. We awarded Stav a Certificate of Appreciation for his good citizenship, and we will come to his class for a special lesson addressing the discovery he has made. We urge all citizens to be our partners in preserving the treasures of the land. Let us know if you discover archaeological finds that have surfaced in the rain near your home.”

Thousands of schoolchildren across Israel study archaeology with the IAA. The curriculum breathes life into cultures and ancient times, in classroom and field studies, combining archaeological finds, puzzles, workshops, archaeological excavations, and tours.

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