A 2,000-year-old sarcophagus, plated with tin and dating from Roman times, has been found by archaeologists working in the Gaza strip.
A sarcophagus is a burial vessel generally made of stone and situated above the ground, although it may also be buried underground. This historic find is located just 500 meters from the sea along the coast of North Gaza. This sarcophagus is part of a large Roman burial that was only discovered last year.
The excavation project is overseen by Première Urgence Internationale, a French humanitarian organization that supports projects to preserve cultural heritage in Gaza, under a program called INTIQAL and funded by the British Council.
So far, about 90 individual and collective graves have been discovered at the 3,500 square meter ancient site. But experts believe this one is special, possibly belonging to a prominent individual.
“The theory is based on the location of the burials, but perhaps bolstering this conclusion is the fact that in Roman times, well into later centuries, lead coffins were considered a luxurious and expensive way to be buried,” said Laura Burnett, of the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme. , told the BBC .
For now, however, we will have to wait to see who is buried in an extraordinary manner, with a statement from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities confirming that the sarcophagus has not been opened, according to Reuters. Instead, the coffin has been tucked into a protective wooden case, ready for further study by local and international experts.
“The analysis of the find, which includes the identification of the bones, is likely to take about two months,” said Jehad Yasin, director of excavations and museums at the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Despite the political turmoil that is still happening in the Gaza area, the sarcophagus appears intact and undamaged. The sarcophagus remained sealed and covered for 2 thousand years underground.
“The timeframe is proven by the clay urns and other artifacts found in the burials,” said ministry spokesman Tareq Al-Af.
The cemetery appears to have been a fortuitous discovery. Originally discovered in 2022 by a group of construction workers at a housing project.
An important trading site for many civilizations throughout history, Gaza is full of ancient relics that one almost trips over.
Last year alone, both parts of a 4,500-year-old statue of the goddess Canaan were found in a farmer’s field, and an ornate Byzantine mosaic that was discovered by accident while trying to plant a tree.
It’s no surprise, then, that the team behind this latest discovery say they hope to find more historical evidence.
“So far only ten burials have been opened for excavation. There may still be more sarcophagi waiting to be found,” Yasin said.
Watch Video “Rare Archaeological Treasure Found in Gaza“