Sci & Tech

Byzantine-era anchor found in Israel might shed light on ancient sailing

English.news.cn   2011-09-13 21:36:32 FeedbackPrintRSS

JERUSALEM, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The recent discovery by Israeli lifeguards of three ancient iron anchors might help archaeologists understand more about ancient sailing and lead to the discovery of an unknown anchorage site.

Lifeguards at a Bat Yam city beach, south of Tel Aviv, came across the first 300 kg, two-meter-tall anchor after spotting it submerged in shallow waters, 30 meters offshore.

Though the lifeguards initially thought it to be a modern artifact, they contacted the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) after suspecting that it might, in fact, be an archaeological find.

An IAA marine archaeologist confirmed that the find was about 1, 700-1,400 years old, belonging to the Byzantine era.

The anchor's surprisingly well preserved state was due to it's having been buried for centuries in the seabed and only being recently uncovered, an IAA statement read.

Following the discovery, other two similar anchors were found nearby, one made of iron and another one made of stone, which archaeologists believe could mark the beach at Bat Yam as an ancient anchorage for Mediterranean sailors.

"The discovery of the anchors indicates the possible existence of an ancient anchorage site that previous research did not show," IAA archaeologist Dror Felner said.

"Another possibility is that the ship originally carrying these anchors might have searched for a refuge site in light of a sudden storm, yet was swept up off the shore of Bat Yam close to the port of Jaffa," Felner said.

Jaffa and its ancient ruins and jetty lies just to the north of Bat Yam.

The sea floors of Israel are rich in archaeological remains which many divers collect without reporting to the IAA.

The IAA warned that the penalty for damaging or removing antiquities from the sea is punishable with up to a three-year prison sentence.

Editor: Yamei Wang
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