Artifacts in a shipwreck off the coast of Israel | Photo: Yoli Shwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority
Two divers: Ran Feinstein and Ofer Ra’anan contributed to the largest discovery in the last 30 years in Israel. As it turned out, they came across the remains of a lost Roman merchant ship.
It sank about 1,600 years ago near Caesarea, a port city about 38 km north of Tel Aviv. After discovering several ancient finds, the men reported the whole matter to the local antiquities authorities. When the archaeologists arrived, they couldn’t believe what they saw: a bronze lamp depicting Sol – the deity of the sun; several iron anchors; a statue of the deity Luna; drinking jars for fresh drinking water at sea; a whale figurine; and what scientists have termed “a bronze faucet in the shape of a boar with a swan on its head”.
Thousands of coins were also found stuck together in a ceramic jar. Based on the coins, scientists were able to determine when the ship sank. It was a time when Christianity was gaining ground in the Roman Empire. The coins show Constantine I and Licinius, two rivals fighting for power in a divided Empire.
1,600-year-old shipwreck and priceless treasures off coast of Israel