An Israeli lifeguard found a rare 2,500-year-old marble discus meant to protect ancient ships.
The lifeguard, who was diving in the antiquities site of Yavne-Yam, turned over the discus, which dates from the fifth century BCE, to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The white discus, flat on one side and convex on the other, measures about 8 inches in diameter. The remains of two circles are painted around its center.
“We know from drawings on pottery vessels, pithoi and ancient coins, as well as from historic sources of the fifth century BCE, that this model was very common on the bows of ships and was used to protect them from the evil eye and envy, and was meant as a navigation aid and to act as a pair of eyes which looked ahead and warned of danger,” according to Kobi Sharvit, the director of the Marine Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Only three other such ancient artifacts had been found throughout the world, all discovered in the Mediterranean Sea – two along the western coast of Turkey and one off the coast of Israel.