Menu JTA Search

Jewelry, Coins of Byzantine and Roman Eras Uncovered by Archaeologists in Palestine

Gold jewelry and coins of the Byzantine Empire, as well as articles of bronze, glass and terra cotta from the Roman period have been excavated at Beisan with the renewal of archaeological work here by the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Palestine expedition, according to a report received by Horace H. F. Jayne, director of the Museum.

DISCOVERY OF IMPORTANCE

In addition to finding these objects, all of which belong to about the Sixth Century, A. D., the expedition also made a wholly unexpected discovery of importance when it unearthed a building, believed to be either a chapel or villa of Byzantine origin, whose rooms still retained much of their original mosaic paving. The Palestine expedition is directed this year by Gerald M. Fitz-Gerald who served for several years as Acting Director of Antiquities in Jerusalem.

“Since beginning its work at Beisan this season the expedition has concentrated its efforts chiefly on the excavation of a cemetery and we have succeeded in excavating about thirty tombs there thus far,” Mr. Fitz-Gerald writes in his report. “Nearly all of them,” he continues, “have proved to be of Roman or Byzantine date but one tomb we discovered was of a different type, namely a ledge of rock on which lay five of the pottery sarcophagi of the ‘slipper’ type with lids representing human heads, which have been associated with the Philistine or other Egyptian mercenaries of about the 12th century B. C.

PRINCIPAL FINDS

“The principal finds in the Roman and Byzantine tombs consist of lamps, glass vases and small objects of bronze. An extremely graceful terra cotta figurine is a noteworthy find and of the same material is the figure of a cock. Some gold earrings and a large number of carnelian beads were among other objects unearthed.

“A wholly unexpected discovery was made on the summit of the cemetery slope when a stone gateway over three metres wide was uncovered leading into a room paved with a mosaic floor. On the threshold the mosaic bears a Greek inscription, obviously of the Byzantine period. Beyond the inscription part of a pattern has been uncovered, including figures of birds in square panels, apparently arranged round an octagonal figure.”

NEXT STORY