Archeologists Salvage 2,000 Year Old Pottery Vessels From Cliffside Cave

Photo by Yinon Shabtiel (Courtesy) on July 02, 2018

Archeologists Salvage 2,000 Year Old Pottery Vessels From Cliffside Cave

Written by Yona Schnitzer/TPS on July 02, 2018


In a joint operation, archeologists from the Safed Academic College and The Israeli Antiquities Authority, together with the Israel Cave Research Center and the Israel Cave Explorers Club have salvaged two large wine jars, a cooking pot and other pottery vessels dating back over 2,000 years, from a cliffside cave on the Lebanese border.

In 2017, Israel Studies Professor Dr. Yinon Shivtiel conducted a survey in the Western Galilee to locate caves that may have served as shelters and hiding places in previous centuries, aided by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. In the course of the survey he was surprised to discover a cave high on the side of a cliff, under an overhang, which contained ancient pottery vessels.

Over the weekend, excavators used ropes to climb up to the cave, and in a coordinated and strenuous effort, succeeded in carrying out the archaeological excavation, which resulted in the salvaging of two intact wine amphoras, several storage jars, a bowl, a cooking pot, two juglets and broken shards of several more jars. The fragile vessels were wrapped in a protective plastic sheet and were lowered 30 meters in padded bags using rope slides controlled from below to reach the base of the cliff safely. The team then carried the artifacts by foot to the road, where they were transferred to an Israel Antiquities Authority facility for restoration and research.

Dr. Danny Syon, a senior archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority joined Dr. Shivtiel to carry out the excavation of the cave. Speaking about the findings, Syon said “as a first impression, the finds seem to date to the Hellenistic period—between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE,” adding that “Considering that cooking and serving vessels were found, it would appear that those who brought them planned to live there for a while. We assume that whoever hid here escaped some violent event that occurred in the area. Perhaps by dating the vessels more closely, we shall be able to tie them to a known historic event. It is mind boggling how the vessels were carried to the cave, which is extremely difficult to access. Maybe an easier way that once existed, disappeared over time.”

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