Bible and archaeology news
Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavations near Apollonia-Arsuf uncovered a cache of gold Byzantine jewelry, 400 coins, 200 Samaritan lamps, an inscribed ring and other precious finds in an unlikely location—Byzantine trash pits. In many instances, dumps provide archaeologists with invaluable information about how people lived, because discarded everyday items are clues about what people ate and threw away. But this is not a normal midden deposit. The presence of usable—and valuable—objects from the fifth–seventh centuries C.E. suggests that these items were dumped for a specific purpose.
Among the Byzantine jewelry described in the IAA press release is a unique ring inscribed with verses from the Samaritan Pentateuch reading “Adonai is his name” and “One God.” This rare artifact—one of about a dozen Samaritan rings known to archaeologists—was found in a large pit with sherds, lamps and coins.
The pits were uncovered along with agricultural installations, including olive and wine presses, at a farming community located near Apollonia-Arsuf, a site that was continuously occupied from the Persian era in the 6th century B.C.E. through the Crusader era in the 13th century C.E. The extensively excavated site yielded equally lavish finds in a recent excavation—100 gold dinars, deliberately buried by the Knights Hospitaller in the 13th century C.E., were uncovered in the 2012 season.
BAS Library Members: Among the recent discoveries were at the Byzantine refuge pits were 200 Samaritan lamps. In the Archaeological Views column “Lighting the Way: Material Culture Illuminates Religious Identity,” Gregg E. Gardner explores the significance of oil lamps from Apollonia-Arsuf.
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