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Ancient gold jewelry, coins found in Byzantine 'garbage' pit

Press Trust of India  |  Jerusalem 

One man's trash is another man's treasure!

Archaeologists have unearthed 400 Byzantine coins, an ancient ring with an inscription, intact lamps and gold jewelry in a trash pit from the Byzantine period in Israel.

It remains a mystery why the valuable items were discarded hundreds of years ago, scientists said.

Numerous finds dating to the Late Byzantine period (fifth, sixth and seventh centuries AD) were discovered in excavations conducted in the agricultural hinterland of the ancient city of Apollonia-Arsuf, just north of Tel Aviv.

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, according to an Israel Antiquities Authority statement.

"The most intriguing find in the area is a number of Byzantine refuse pits. One of them is especially large (more than 30 metres in diameter) and contained fragments of pottery vessels (jars, cooking ware, tableware and lamps), fragments of glass vessels, industrial glass waste and animal bones," said Professor Oren Tal of the Tel Aviv University and Moshe Ajami of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Archaeologists also found more than four hundred coins 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, another side: One God, and so on)," researchers said.

Apollonia was inhabited continuously for more than 1,500 years - from the Persian period (late sixth century BC) until the end of the Crusader period (thirteenth century AD).

First Published: Sun, August 18 2013. 14:45 IST