Israeli Schoolboy Discovers Ancient Burial Slab

January 27, 2020

by: Edgar Asher

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Stav Meir holding the stone slab he discovered in Caesarea

Monday, 27 January 2020 | Stav Meir, 13, who attended archeology classes in his school with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), immediately realized he had stumbled upon an ancient find and reported it. He was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for good citizenship and the class will soon enjoy a special activity.

Stav, a 13-year-old resident of Caesarea, went out a week ago with his father Zohar, his brothers and cousins, to look for mushrooms in the Caesarea area after the recent heavy rains. Suddenly, he saw a stone slab protruding out of the ground. He quickly called his father and showed him the intriguing object, which had an inscription in Greek. “I immediately recognized that it was something ancient,” says Stav, a seventh grader from Caesarea. “I studied archeology in school together with the IAA, therefore I can easily identify antiquities when I see them.”

The excited Stav, who understood the importance of reporting such a find, quickly reported his discovery of the slab with the Greek inscription to the IAA and an archaeologist came to collect it for research.

According to archaeologist Dr. Peter Gendelman, a Caesarea researcher at the IAA, “this is a burial inscription—a marble slab with an inscription engraved in Greek and started with a cross. The slab, which apparently indicated the grave’s location in the cemetery and the identity of the deceased, reads: ‘The grave of… and of Anastasius, or Anastasia…’” Dr. Gendelman added, “Already, in ancient times, Caesarea was a center of attraction for a wealthy population. The quality of the slab discovered by Stav indicates the wealthy status of the person entombed, as well as the customs and beliefs of inhabitants of Caesarea in the Byzantine period. This inscription joins a large collection of burial inscriptions previously discovered around ancient Caesarea.”

During the Byzantine period, the rich of Caesarea built magnificent mansions in the suburbs of the city. These buildings gave their owners quality of life, and thus they enjoyed the rural character of the area on the one hand, and proximity to the heart of the city on the other. To this day sections of five magnificent mansions have been discovered, each covering an extensive area. The best known is the Bird Mosaic’ mansion, whose area is estimated to cover 1.5 dunam [.37 acres]. Most of the floors in the sections of the complex that have been excavated were colored mosaics and some are open to the public today.

According to Mr. Karem Said, Haifa District Archaeologist at the IAA, “The country’s recent rainstorms have uncovered archeological finds buried in the ground. The IAA is pleased and proud with Stav’s good citizenship, and the actual application of the knowledge he has acquired with us in the classroom and in the field. The finding of this inscription enriches archeological knowledge and our understanding of ancient Caesarea. We awarded Stav a Certificate of Appreciation for his good citizenship, and we will come to his class for a special lesson addressing the discovery he made. We urge citizens to be our partners in preserving the treasures of the land. Let us know if you discover archeological finds that have surfaced in the rain.”

Thousands of schoolchildren across the country study archeology with the IAA. The curriculum breaths life into cultures and ancient times, in classroom and field studies, combining archeological finds, puzzles, workshops, archaeological excavations and tours. The activities break the routine and connect children and youth in the country to those who lived here before them, tightening the chain of generations. The program operates in schools in all sectors and across the country, with each archaeological center having its own specialty, tailored to the nature of the area and the sites under its jurisdiction.

Posted on January 27, 2020

Source: (Ashernet, January 22, 2020)

Photo Credit: Karem Said/Israel Antiquities Authority