Customs Letter About a Long-Lost Suitcase Leads to Artifacts from Desert with Early 'Jesus' Painting

Live Science | 2/19/2019 | Staff
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The ancient desert village of Shivta in southern Israel made headlines when archaeologists discovered a wall painting there that is thought to show the baptism of Jesus Christ, the earliest representation of Christ known in Israel.

Now, they have found about 140 long-lost artifacts from the village, which showed up in an archive in Jerusalem, after they were left behind in a suitcase more than 80 years ago.

Researchers - Suitcase - Items - Excavations - Shivta

The researchers found that the suitcase had been filled with small items from archaeological excavations at Shivta in the 1930s. And they tracked down its contents to the shelves of a museum archive in Jerusalem, where they had been overlooked for decades.

One of the rediscovered Shivta artifacts is a ring with an embedded gemstone, carved to represent a whale, dating to between the second and fourth centuries A.D.

Artifacts - Items - Jewelry - Door - Hinges

The artifacts, which consist of small items like jewelry, door hinges, nails, pieces of glass, objects made from bone, ivory and wood, and shards of pottery inscribed with Arabic and Greek writing, are now on display at the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa.

Most of the rediscovered artifacts are thought to date from Shivta's Byzantine period, about 1,500 years ago.

Fire - Shivta - October - Letter - Customs

They were thought to have been destroyed in a fire at Shivta in October 1938, but the letter from the customs official showed they had already been removed from the site several months before that fire, said University of Haifa archaeologist...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Live Science
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