A woman living in northern Israel phoned the Israel Antiquities Authority after a relative of hers passed away and left some artifacts stored in crates. When two archaeologists showed up to examine the wares she was keeping in her basement, they were shocked to discover the treasure that was left behind – including items that were surprisingly well-preserved for up to 3,000 years.
Osnat Lester who lives in Poria Illit, a village near Tiberias along the Sea of Galilee, phoned the Antiquities Authority to ask if she could donate to the state the crates filled with pottery and jugs her late relative who was a fisherman had collected.
Archaeologists who came to her house were stunned to find what they described as a real treasure, including a 3,000-year-old vase.
“One beautiful vase with a tall frame and high handles was immediately recognized as being from the time of the Biblical period, about 3,000 years ago. Another remarkable piece was reported to be from the Roman period, some 2,000 years ago, and a round urn was dated to the Byzantine period, about 1,500 years ago,” reported the Jerusalem Post.
Much of the pottery – which archaeologists believe was found on ships from different eras – was fully intact with pieces wrapped in cloth and stored inside boxes. The jugs are believed to have carried food and wine.
Archaeologists believe Lester’s relative must have found the artifacts on ships submerged in the Mediterranean Sea, which would explain their remarkable state of preservation.
Some of the pottery was even encrusted with seashells and fossils.
The head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit Amir Ganor told the Israeli website Walla that the ports of ancient Israel were a key destination for sea trade between two major cultural centers, Egypt in the south and Lebanon in the north. “More than once, merchant ships were caught in distress and sunk while taking to the depths their cargo,” explained Ganor.
The Antiquities Authority has thanked Lester for being a “Good Samaritan” and donating her inheritance.
“Thanks to her honesty, the authority can investigate the pieces and perhaps shed some new light on the mysteries of the ancient Land of Israel,” the Jerusalem Post wrote.