By: April Carson
Just yards from a beach south of Tel Aviv, archaeologists in Israel have discovered an "exceptional" cave that ancient people sealed 3,300 years ago. The cave contains grave goods and possibly human burials.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) stated that the cave was used during ancient Egyptian times, when Ramesses II — also known as Ramses and Rameses — reigned from about 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C., and that it is currently "a sacred site for adherents of several monotheistic religions." The empire Egypt ruled during Ramesses' reign stretched from modern-day Sudan to Syria.
The IAA said the cave, which is about 30 feet (9 meters) long and 20 feet (6 m) wide, was found during an archaeological survey ahead of the construction of a seawall. The team excavated the site and found that it had been deliberately sealed with large rocks at its entrance.
The discovery of the cave was made when a mechanical digger operated by construction workers in Palmahim Beach National Park unexpectedly pierced through the ceiling of the cave. The IAA dispatched archaeologists to the scene once they were notified. The team cautiously entered the foreboding cave, which was "laid out with care," containing ceramic and bronze objects. These items are often linked with burial ceremonies and were thought to assist the deceased in their afterlife journey.
The cave's contents have given archaeologists a unique insight into the funerary practices of the ancient Egyptians. This is because most Egyptian burial sites have long since been looted, making it difficult to find out what was actually buried there. However, the intact state of this cave means that its contents are largely intact.
The archaeologists discovered dozens of pottery vessels including bowls (both deep and shallow), some painted red, as well as chalices (goblets with wide bottoms), cooking pots, storage jars, and lamps designed for lighting. This is according to the statement released by the team.
The cave also contained a number of bones, including those of rams, which were popular animals among the ancient Egyptians. It is thought that these rams may have been part of the funerary offerings made to Ramesses II.
According to Eli Yannai, an archaeologist with the IAA, some of the cave's crafts were from outside the area. A few of the pottery vessels discovered were manufactured in Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus. The team plans to use any organic remnants they find on these objects to learn more about their contents.
Bronze arrowheads were discovered in the cave, some of which were oriented in a manner that suggests they may have been contained in a quiver that has since decomposed.
"This is a momentous discovery," Yannai said in the statement. "It's very rare to come across an 'Indiana Jones film set' — a cave floor with vessels unaltered for 3,300 years, from the Late Bronze Age, around the same time as King Rameses II."
"You're not looking at a site of monumental importance, but rather human significance," he said. "Because the cave was shut, most of it was not pillaged." He went on to note that due to the fact that the area has been untouched for so long, the cave "has a unique importance in understanding the material culture of the period."
The IAA has yet to reveal whether any human remains or writings or objects that might help identify the individual(s) were discovered in the cave. Since its discovery, the cave has been resealed and guarded by the IAA, but it appears to have been recently looted. According to a statement issued by the organization, an investigation is now under way to determine who the robbers were.
While the archaeologists are preparing to study the cave's excellent preservation, director-general of the IAA Eli Eskosido and director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority Raya Shurky have been flooded with requests from scholars who want to participate in the excavation. The two directors have decided to open the cave to a limited number of researchers, who will be selected by a committee.
The cave was probably used by a small community of people who lived off the land. It is unclear why they chose to live in such an isolated location, but it is possible that they were hiding from enemies or were engaged in some sort of illicit activity.
The research was originally published in The Times of Israel.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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