Ancient Underwater Treasure Found in Caesarea with Christian Gold Ring
Some time ago, a team of divers from the Antiquities Authority’s (IAA) Marine Archaeology Unit was surveying an area just outside the harbor of Caesarea, as they routinely do off the entire coast of Israel.
“We spotted a broken metal anchor and decided to see if there was more in the area,” said archaeologist Jacob Sharvit. “We soon started to find many other artifacts.”
That diving led to the discovery of an incredible underwater treasure, from two ancient ships dating back to the third and 14th centuries CE that wrecked in the same spot just meters off the coast – over 1,000 years apart, as the IAA revealed Wednesday, December 22. The treasures included hundreds of coins and some unique jewelry.
First established in the fourth century BCE, in the first century, Caesarea was selected by Herod to build a port city. The city remained an important center throughout Roman and Byzantine times.
The artifacts from the Roman period included silver and bronze coins – which allowed the expert to date the findings – a precious gemstone with a lyre carved on the surface, bronze bells, an eagle figurine, a symbol of the Roman rule, another figurine shaped like a dancer wearing a comic mask, and pottery vessels.
Perhaps the most extraordinary find, however, was the gold ring. Thick and shaped as an octagon, the ring carried a green stone with the figure of a young shepherd wrapped in a tunic and carrying a lamb on his shoulders engraved on it. The “good shepherd” is one of the earliest expressions to refer to Jesus, used multiple times in the Gospels.
“I am the good shepherd,” reads a verse in John. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
“We know that similar images were found in the Christian catacombs in Rome,” said Helena Sokolov, a curator at the IAA Coin Department.
Caesarea was home to an important early Christian community and it is mentioned several times in the New Testament. (TOI / VFI News)
For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out. For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding? - Job 8:8-10