Can you imagine being an amateur diver and stumbling across actual buried treasure? Typically, when we think of amateur divers finding treasure, one might expect some old coins or dilapidated furniture, but these two amateur divers found much, much more during an underwater exploration off of the waters of Israel. Their discoveries are truly fascinating.
Not many amateur divers have been as lucky as Ran Feinstein and Ofer Raanan. These two men were exploring off the coast of Caesarea last month and found a Roman shipwreck. The divers spotted two sculptures that were buried within the seabed. The immediately realized that they had come across something very special and contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority. The IAA then sent their own team of archaeologists and divers to further investigate.
Ofer Raanan, a regular fixture in the area, stated to the Associated Press; “It was amazing. I dive here every other weekend and I’ve never found anything like that, ever.”
These artifacts are particularly special. They are in almost perfect condition. Thankfully, the artifacts were buried within the sand and have been protected since the ship first went down. Some of the items that were found around the ship were three life-size bronze statues, different animal figurines, metal lamps, drinking water jars, thousands of coins bearing the image of the Roman emperors Constantine and Licinius, as well as small statues of the Moon goddess Luna and the god of wine Dionysus. The coins of are importance because we know that Constantine and Licinius ruled over the Roman Empire around the fourth century CE, letting researchers know that this shipwreck must date back to around this time.
This is the largest sunken treasure to be found in Israeli waters in the past 30 years. Caesarea is a port city that was rebuilt by Herod the Great around 20 to 10 BCE. Its convenient location on the Mediterranean coast made it into a quickly developing location for the Roman Empire. Jacob Sharvit, the director of Marine Archaeology Unit at the IAA stated that, “The location and distribution of the ancient finds on the seabed indicate that a large merchant ship was carrying a cargo of metal slated [for] recycling, which apparently encountered a storm at the entrance to the harbor and drifted until it smashed into the seawall and the rocks.”