A 3,300 year-old intact burial cave was discovered south of Tel Aviv along the coast off the Mediterranean Sea, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Sunday.
The cave, dating back to the period of Rameses II, regarded by some scholars as the Pharaoh of the biblical exodus from Egypt, was discovered in the Palmahim Beach National Park as a mechanical digger broke through its roof during development works by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
As Israeli archeologists walked down a ladder into the site, they saw what they described as a cave “frozen in time,” featuring several dozens of intact pottery and bronze artifacts as they would have been arranged in a burial ceremony, about 3,300 years ago. During that period, vessels were presented as burial offerings for the deceased in the belief that they would serve the person in the afterlife. The burial cave chamber was hewn into a bedrock in the form of a square with a central pillar supporting its ceiling.
In the burial chamber, the archeologists found deep and shallow bowls, some red-painted, footed chalices, cooking pots, storage jars and oil lamps for lighting. The archeologists believe that some of the storage jars were produced along the coast of Syria and Lebanon. Smaller vessels, mainly jugs and juglets, used to store and trade small amounts of expensive commodities, originated from Tyre, Sidon, and other ports along the Lebanese coast, whilst other pottery vessels came from Cyprus.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery,” exclaimed Eli Yannai, a Bronze Age expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority. “It is extremely rare to come across an ‘Indiana Jones film set” – a cave floor laid out with vessels untouched for 3,300 years, since the Late Bronze Age, about the time of the powerful King Rameses II.”
Yannai pointed out that that as the cave was sealed, and not looted in later periods, archeologists will be able to use modern scientific methods, to retrieve more insight from the artifacts and from the residues extant on the vessels, for example, organic remains that are not visible to the naked eye.
Among the finds in the cave, which date back to the thirteenth century BCE, the archeologists also discovered bronze arrowheads and spear tips.
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