Israel uncovers ancient Roman history

2017-04-26 22:32
A picture shows part of ancient synagogue, discovered during the renovation of the ancient harbour of Caesarea. (Jack Guez, AFP)

A picture shows part of ancient synagogue, discovered during the renovation of the ancient harbour of Caesarea. (Jack Guez, AFP)

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Caesarea - Israeli archaeologists working on a major Roman-era port city have unveiled new discoveries including an altar dedicated to Augustus Caesar and a centuries-old mother-of-pearl tablet inscribed with a menorah.

The finds at Caesarea, a complex on the Mediterranean coast 50km north of Tel Aviv, were the result of "one of the largest and most important conservation projects ever undertaken in Israel," the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Preservation work

Caesarea was established about 2 030 years ago by Roman-appointed King Herod the Great, who ruled what was then Judea.

Today, the ruins are a popular tourist destination where concerts are still held in the remains of an ancient Roman theatre.

Archaeologist Peter Gendelman, leading a tour of the site, said the preservation work was perhaps the most "complicated and interesting" project he had worked on in his 30-year career.

Some of the finds are "completely changing our understanding of the dynamics of this area", he said.

Authorities are planning to finish the excavations within months and open a visitors' centre built into ancient vaults to illustrate the city's history.

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation and local authorities have allocated more than $27m for the project.

Ancient synagogue

The site, which contains ruins from later periods including the Byzantine, Muslim and Crusader eras, has been the focus of major excavation work over the decades but recent work has revealed new secrets.

The project also aims to preserve the remains of an ancient synagogue and a nearby aquaduct.

Officials said a small mother-of-pearl tablet engraved with a menorah was testimony to an ancient Jewish presence at the site.

Archaeologists said it likely dates to the fourth or fifth century AD.


Read more on:    israel  |  archaeology

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