Archaeologists and researchers are trying to figure out why a recently found treasure of 1,500-year-old coins and other artifacts was buried in Byzantine era refuse pits.
The excavations, on behalf of the Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority, are being carried out prior to expanding the city of Herzliya, immediately north of Tel Aviv.
Numerous finds dating to the Late Byzantine period of the 5th-7th centuries were among the antiquities discovered in excavations conducted in the agricultural hinterland of the ancient city of Apollonia-Arsuf, located east of the site.
Among the finds uncovered are installations for processing the agricultural produce such as wine presses, and what also might be the remains of an olive press, as well as remains of walls that were apparently part of the ancillary buildings that were meant to serve local farmers.
“The most intriguing find in the area is a number of Byzantine refuse pits,” said Tel Aviv University Prof. Oren Tal and Moshe Ajami of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“One of them is especially large – more than 100 feet in diameter – and contained fragments of pottery vessels, fragments of glass vessels, industrial glass waste and animal bones.
“In the midst of the many shards that were discovered in the big refuse pit was a large amount of usable artifacts, whose presence in the pit raises questions. Among other things, more than four hundred coins were found which are mostly Byzantine, including one gold coin, as well as two hundred whole and intact Samaritan lamps, among them lamps that were never used, rings and gold jewelry.”
Noteworthy among the jewelry is an octagonal ring with parts of verses from the Samaritan Pentateuch engraved in Samaritan script on each of its sides. One side reads, “Adonai is his name,” and another side reads, “One God….”
Approximately a dozen Samaritan rings have been published so far in scientific literature, and this ring constitutes an important addition given the assemblage in which it was discovered.
The excavation site once served as the agricultural hinterland of Apollonia-Arsuf, which is located west of the excavation area and what is today the Apollonia National Park. Archaeological excavations conducted there from the 1950s until the present indicate that the site was inhabited continuously for more than 1,500 years – from the Persian period in the late 6th century BCE until the end of the Crusader period in the 13th century CE.