While patrolling the Roman-Byzantine ruins at Horbat Siv in central Israel, anti-antiquities-theft inspectors with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) found a 1,400-year-old oil lamp that had apparently been dug up by a porcupine. The intact lamp, which was discovered at the edge of a porcupine burrow, has burn marks, indicating that the object was once used.
As porcupines create underground burrows, which can stretch as long as 50 feet, objects in the rodents’ path can make their way to the surface.
Artifacts discovered along the ground, removed from their original archaeological context, are considered surface finds. These types of finds can signal, among other things, the possible presence of an archaeological site or confirm the presence of one that has already been identified.
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According to the IAA, the oil lamp unearthed by the porcupine sheds light on the time frame in which Horbat Siv had been inhabited.
“The IAA calls on all porcupines to avoid digging burrows at archaeological sites and warns that digging at an archaeological site without a license is a criminal offense.”
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