Mysteries of ancient Jaffa: Israeli archaeologists have found a jug with a baby

(ORDO NEWS) — The remains of a baby in a jug were found by archaeologists during excavations in Israel. Such burials occurred at different time periods, but it is still unclear why newborns were buried in this way.

Archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority during excavations on the territory of the ancient Israeli city of Jaffa found a vessel with the remains of a baby and many other historical objects. They described the findings in several articles in the magazine Atiqot.

Jaffa was one of the main ports of ancient Israel. It was one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and it was here that ships with pilgrims came to Jerusalem. At present, Jaffa is merged with Tel Aviv into a single city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

In 2011-2013, archaeologists conducted large-scale excavations in Jaffa.

Among other finds, they found a ceramic jug that became a coffin for an infant who died in the Bronze Age.

Such burials occasionally come across during excavations, but it is still unclear why the babies were buried in this way, says archaeologist Yoav Arbel, one of the researchers who discovered the remains.

“You can think practically and assume that because of the fragility of children’s bodies, people felt the need to protect the baby from the environment, even if he was already dead,” says Arbel. – But there are always other interpretations.

For example, the vessel evoked parallels with the womb, and the meaning of the ritual was to symbolically return the child back to the womb of Mother Earth or under the protection of his mother. ”

Jaffa was the second most populous city in Israel and one of the first port cities in the world.

“We’re talking about a city ruled by many different people,” says Arbel. “But children were buried in vessels for a long time – from the Bronze Age to the last century.”

The vessel with the baby is only a small part of what was discovered during the excavations. Archaeologists have described many finds, from the Hellenistic period to the time of the Crusades and the capture of Palestine by the Ottoman Empire. So, they found a large garbage pit filled with fragments of imported amphorae dating from the Hellenistic period – IV-I centuries BC. These amphorae, about 2,300 years old, which were used to store wine, were made on the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos and others. This pit alone provides ample evidence that reliable trade routes were established between Jaffa and Greece.

Other finds include 30 coins from different periods, up to the middle of the 20th century; the remains of at least two horses and shards of pottery from the Ottoman Empire; 95 fragments of glass vessels from the Roman and Middle Ages; 232 seashells, including those from the Mediterranean Sea, snail shells and three mother-of-pearl buttons.

Also, archaeologists stumbled upon an ancient Greek mosaic near the necropolis of the 4th-5th centuries AD. It read: “Be courageous, everyone who is buried here. So that!”

Basically, the message means “This is life!” and that death is everyone’s lot, says Zvi Greenhatt, head of the department’s publishing department.

The volume of finds allows expanding knowledge about the city and life in it in the past, the researchers note. Thus, a significant amount of Byzantine mosaic reflects the economic, agricultural and demographic development of Jaffa by the 6th century AD. e. In one of the investigated areas, scientists found many cannonballs and their fragments – probably this place played an important role in the struggle of local residents against the invaders.

“This excavation should be seen as part of a broader exploration of the city of Jaffa and its surroundings, especially in the context of the economic life that supported the city and contributed to its progress and prosperity,” the authors conclude.

Earlier, amateur archaeologists found in Israel a treasure of 425 gold coins – 845 grams of pure gold. The treasure was buried in the ground in an earthen vessel. Most of the coins belong to the Abbasid period (the Abbasid caliphate stretched from Persia in the east to North Africa in the west, the center of the state was located in Baghdad).

According to archaeologists, for this amount in the 9th century it was possible to buy a luxurious house. They also added that the coins were in perfect condition.

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